Germany's Merkel sees need to cooperate with Russia on Syria

Germany and other western European powers need to work with Russia as well as the United States to solve the crisis in Syria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with his Russian, French and Ukrainian counterparts in Berlin on Saturday evening and said afterwards he saw growing support for creating an international contact group to solve the Syrian conflict.
Earlier, a delegation source said Steinmeier and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had a lengthy exchange about Syria on the sidelines of the meeting, with both agreeing to support the UN Syrian envoy, Staffan de Mistura's plan to create a Syrian contact group.
De Mistura has invited warring parties to take part in UN-led working groups to address matters including political and constitutional issues, and military and security issues.
Russia had called on Friday for cooperation with the United States to avoid "unintended incidents", as it stages naval exercises off the coast of Syria, where US officials believe Moscow is building up forces to protect long-term ally President Bashar Assad.
Syrian state media said on Saturday two Russian planes carrying 80 tons of humanitarian aid arrived in Syria. Russia said on Friday it had been sending military equipment to help the Syrian government fight Islamic State.
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