LONDON—The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and the U.K. urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday to build on the recent cessation of hostilities in Syria to pave the way for discussions on a more lasting peace in the war-torn country in Geneva next week, the British government said.
During a conference call initiated by the European leaders, Mr. Putin said Russia was committed to the cessation of hostilities in Syria, according to a spokeswoman for U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron. The European leaders welcomed the truce during the call, but didn’t discuss the thorny issue of President Bashar al-Assad’s role in the future of Syria, she said.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Russia “expressed its readiness to increasing the scope of mutual activities to resolve the acute humanitarian problems.”
During Friday’s call with Mr. Putin there was a clear message from the European leaders—Chancellor Angela Merkel, PresidentFrançois Hollande, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Mr. Cameron—that civilians in Syria shouldn’t be targeted or bombed, Mr. Cameron’s spokeswoman said. She added that the leaders also discussed improving humanitarian access in Syria during the roughly 50-minute long call.
She added that Mr. Cameron also made the point during the discussion that it was in their common interest to find peace and political transition in Syria to help defeat Daesh, the militant group known as Islamic State, and tackle the wider threat from Islamist extremism.
Source: Wall Street Journal, 4 March 2016