MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. For the first time over the past five years the dialogue on Syria has advanced greatly, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"We don’t want to overestimate the situation, but, I think, it is possible to say that we have never ever managed to advance [in the Syrian settlement process] over the past five years as far as we have today," the German minister said. "After the meeting [of the International Syria Support Group - ISSG] in Vienna and after our agreement in Vienna and Munich for the first time hundreds of thousands of people that were cut off from any procurement can be provided with food and water. The hope for the political process emerged for the first time, for the first time there is an opportunity for not only representatives of the regime and opposition to sit down at the negotiating table in Geneva, but also for all regional neighbors who are trying to assist the settlement process," he said.
The German foreign minister called for further international efforts in this direction. "If we want this process to result in the conflict’s political settlement, we need to continue the efforts to exert, where necessary, pressure on the conflict sides," he said. "It is necessary to further improve the humanitarian situation."
"We need to start as soon as possible negotiations on the exchange of prisoners between the regime and opposition," the minister said. "Finally, we must reach an agreement on a common secular state of Syria. We should not lose time and none of the conflict sides should play for buying time."
"Yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels showed that terror threatens us everywhere and always, that it threatens us equally and we should jointly counteract terrorism," Steinmeier said. "The held negotiations have shown that we not only assess the danger in a similar way, but also realize the need to act together."