Germany says ready to contribute to Syria rebuilding

Germany is ready to contribute to rebuilding Syria if a political solution was found for fair elections in the country, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 14 September 2018
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Germany says ready to contribute to Syria rebuilding

  • Russia-backed regime forces have massed around Idlib in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion.
  • The UN has warned a full-fledged assault on Idlib could create the century’s “worst humanitarian catastrophe,” sending thousands more fleeing.

BERLIN: Germany is ready to contribute to rebuilding Syria if a political solution was found for fair elections in the country, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Friday.
Hours before the minister was due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Berlin, Maas appeared to answer a request made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in August for Europe to step up in reconstructing Syria.
“If there’s a political solution in Syria that leads to free elections, then we are ready to take on the responsibility of reconstruction,” wrote Maas on Twitter.
“It is in our interest for Syria to be a stable country. For that, reconstruction is necessary. And we have an important role in that.”
At the same time, Maas also underlined Berlin’s demand for Moscow to use its influence to get President Bashar Assad to back off from a looming major offensive against opposition-held Idlib.
“I will impress upon my colleague Lavrov our expectations that there should be no major offensive in Idlib,” Maas wrote.
Russia-backed regime forces have massed around Idlib in recent weeks, sparking fears of an imminent air and ground attack to retake the last major opposition bastion.
During a visit to Berlin in August, Putin had called on Europe to fund the reconstruction of Syria to allow millions of refugees to go home.
“We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict,” he said then.
“By that, I mean above all humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, and help the regions where refugees living abroad can return to.”
Germany has taken in more than a million asylum seekers since 2015, many fleeing wars in Syria and Iraq.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to keep Germany’s borders open at the height of the refugee influx deeply divided her country.
The UN has warned a full-fledged assault on Idlib could create the century’s “worst humanitarian catastrophe,” sending thousands more fleeing.


Ninth lawmaker quits Britain’s opposition Labour Party

Updated 17 min 54 sec ago
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Ninth lawmaker quits Britain’s opposition Labour Party

  • Corbyn, a supporter of Palestinian rights and critic of the Israeli government, has previously been accused by some of failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the party. He denies the allegation

LONDON: British lawmaker Ian Austin resigned from the opposition Labour Party on Friday, the ninth person to do so this week, saying it was “broken” and had been taken over by the “hard left.”

Austin said he was appalled at the treatment of Jewish lawmakers who had taken a stand against anti-Semitism and that the “the party is tougher on the people complaining about anti-Semitism than it is on the anti-Semites.”

“The Labour Party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take, but I have to be honest and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour Party under (leader) Jeremy Corbyn,” he told the Express and Star newspaper.

“I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.”

Corbyn has promised to drive anti-Semitism out of the party.

Austin said he did not currently have any plans to join The Independent Group in parliament, launched by seven of his former Labour colleagues on Monday and since joined by an eighth as well as three former members of the governing Conservatives.

A Labour lawmaker since 2005 and a former government minister, Austin supports Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal and is not in favor of holding a second referendum, putting him at odds with the other Independent Group members.