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Extension of Aleppo ceasefire possible, Hollande says

October 20, 2016, 6:26 UTC+3

"The current brief pause in military actions should be used for delivering humanitarian cargoes," the French president said

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French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

© EPA/MICHAEL KAPPELER

BERLIN, October 20. /TASS/. The talks in Berlin have allowed to move toward understanding that ceasefire in Aleppo may be extended, French President Francois Hollande told a press conference on Thursday.

"After talks in Berlin, we got the impression that ceasefire in Aleppo may be prolonged. However, Russia and Syrian authorities should confirm it first," Hollande said. "Everyone who really wants the extension of the ceasefire, should guarantee this extension," he added.

"It was a very important meeting," the French president noted. "It would be impossible from the moral and political point of view to hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin without touching upon the Syrian problems, in particular the situation in Aleppo," he noted.

"The current brief pause in military actions should be used for delivering humanitarian cargoes, as well as to everything that may facilitate political discussions on the future of Syria," the French president said. "France and Germany are ready to assist in these initiatives, as well as in delivering humanitarian aid to Aleppo," Hollande stressed.

"Ceasefire for several hours is not enough. A lengthy ceasefire in Aleppo is required to deliver humanitarian aid and pull out militants from the city. We should exert maximum pressure on the regime and on Russia, to ensure the extension of ceasefire," Hollande said.

New sanctions

The president said sanctions against Russia over Syria will be premature, French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday after Normandy Four summit in Berlin.

"We intend to continue discussing developments in Syria, continuing bombings there. Sanctions can definitely be imposed on those individuals responsible for such crimes. I cannot clarify now the concrete sanctions that will be adopted but they must correspond to the real danger of what is happening," Hollande said.

He noted that "Russia is subjected to sanctions over Ukraine, and this topic will be discussed in the context of our general discussion of relations with Moscow."

Hollande said that "talks with Vladimir Putin were aimed at laying the basis for the future resolution of the crisis, but the confirmation of this will be received only in the next few days." "If the pause in military actions will continue, it will be the first, though modest, step forward. However, to embark on the right path, we will have to make many more steps," he concluded.

EU summit to discuss sanctions against Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Russia bears "a considerable part of responsibility" for the situation in Syria. Merkel told a press conference after Normandy Four talks in Berlin that additional sanctions against Moscow will be discussed at the EU summit that starts today. However, on top of the agenda will be the issue of improving the humanitarian situation in Syria, she added.

Talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande were tough, Merkel said. "It was a very clear and tough exchange of opinions," she noted. "On behalf of Germany, I made it clear that international law clearly defines war crimes, and that bombings are inhumane. They represent a horrible hardship for the population," the German chancellor said.

Russia "bears a large part of responsibility" for the humanitarian situation in Syria, Merkel said. However, she noted that it is impossible to separate civilians from terrorists without a ceasefire.

"It will not be possible to separate civilians from terrorists in the conditions of bombings," Merkel said.

Talking about the possibility of introducing new sanctions against Russia, the German leader did not rule out that the issue will be discussed at the EU summit that starts on Thursday. "It cannot be ruled out but on top of the agenda today will be the discussion on how to help people," Merkel said. "Attention should be focused on how to help people and use all contacts to assist the Red Cross for instance, in delivering at least one humanitarian convoy," Merkel concluded.

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