AFP GETTY/ EPA
Germany has warned Russia to enter talks over Syria
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s Foreign Minister, insists Russia will not be respected on the international stage if it continues to back President Bashar al-Assad in the wake of deadly chemical attacks.
Mr Gabriel said Russia is unable to shoulder the financial burden of Syria alone with work to rebuild the war-torn country impossible while the conflict rages on.
After G7 ministers rejected Boris Johnson’s calls for a robust approach towards Russian aggression in Syria, Mr Gabriel said: “Firstly, there would be no rebuilding of Syria as long as there is no change.
Nobody would finance Mr Assad and Russia knows that it cannot carry this financial burden alone
“Nobody would invest in Syria as long as there is war and civil war. Nobody would finance Mr Assad and Russia knows that it cannot carry this financial burden alone.
“Secondly, I believe that Russia wants to be a respected international partner. One could not stand on the side of a regime that – not for the first time – had used poisonous gas against its own civilian population.”
Russia continues to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
87 people died in a sarin gas attack in Idlib, Syria last week prompting international outrage as photographs of dying children were seen around the world.
Mr Gabriel said he did not think Russia wishes to see any more “pictures of mothers and fathers carrying their children murdered by poison gas”.
The German Foreign Minister stressed the West must put on a united front when dealing with Russia.
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Sigmar Gabriel said Russia cannot be respected on the international stage
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Moscow for talks with Vladimir Putin
He said: “I think we have to show a united position and that in these negotiations we should do all we can to get Russia out of Assad's corner, at least to the point that they are ready to participate in finding a political solution.
“It is the right moment to talk about this, how the international community, with Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Europe, with the U.S., can drive forward a peace process for Syria and avoid further military escalation of the conflict.”
Asked about calls for sanctions against senior Russian and Syrian military figures, Mr Gabriel said: “One cannot not expect to come to a solution overnight after so many years of war.
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A child receiving treatment at a field hospital after an alleged chemical attack in Idlib, northen Syria
“And Russia would not say ‘right, now we'll do things how you want’ from one day to the next. Instead a range of talks will be held.”
It comes as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Moscow for talks with Russian officials after the US fired 59 missiles at the Syrian airbase suspected of launching the chemical attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says trust has eroded between Moscow and Washington.
Mr Putin doubled down on Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, repeating denials that Mr Assad's government was to blame for the gas attack and adding a new theory that the attack may have been faked by the Syrian government’s enemies.