Putin calls on Europe to rebuild Syria so that refugees can return

Clay Curtis
August 19, 2018

Putin told reporters that everything must be done to help Syrian refugees to return to their country and that Syria needed assistance to rebuild.

"The main thing is that the Ukrainian transit - which is traditional for us - meets economic demands", he said.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has shown off his fancy footwork as he limbered up for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

From her end, Merkel will push for a Russian commitment to keep at least some gas transiting Ukraine, which earns transit fees from it. Putin has said he's open for shipments to continue if Ukraine settles a gas dispute with Russia.

The United States is pressing Berlin to halt the pipeline that will carry gas from Russian Federation under the Baltic Sea, arguing it will increase Germany's dependence on Russian Federation for energy.

The comments came ahead of a meeting between the two leaders at a German government guest house outside the capital, Berlin.

'I am of the opinion that controversial issues can only be addressed in dialogue and through dialogue, ' she said.

Putin also spoke about worldwide reconstruction efforts and the humanitarian situation in Syria.

Putin, alongside Merkel, cited the pipeline as a key economic bond.

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Merkel said the priority in Syria was "to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe", particularly in the Idlib region, which is held by rebel groups and militants. U.S. President Donald Trump exited the deal in May.

Karin Kneissl was all smiles as she danced with the strongman in a vineyard in Austria's southern Styria province - though critics anxious her invitation to Putin undermined the West's tough-guy approach with Moscow.

Mr Putin's presence at the wedding was criticised by Austrian opposition politicians.

Speaking at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit last month, he said: "Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russian Federation because it's getting so much of its energy from Russian Federation".

The annexation and ensuing conflict between Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine and the Ukrainian army set off the worst confrontation between Russia and the West since World War Two.

Earlier, Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas said he was "relatively optimistic about the chances of a United Nations mission", telling the Die Welt newspaper: "We want to give a new dynamic to the Minsk process".

On Syria, Germany wants Putin to finalize a lasting cease-fire there in agreement with the United States.

The two leaders both viewed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project as a purely commercial venture, despite persistent fire by the USA and Ukrainian governments, Peskov said.

While Merkel was cautious about the likelihood of making progress on longstanding disputes, others in her new governing coalition seemed more hopeful.

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