Russia's Putin willing to halt Aleppo airstrikes for longer


German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday announced her first summit in over a year with the Russian, Ukrainian and French presidents to discuss efforts toward peace in eastern Ukraine, but ratcheted down expectations of any significant progress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, attend the talks at a summit with the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and France at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednes.

"What's at stake is the honour or the shame of the worldwide community", Hollande said in a press statement alongside a delegation from Aleppo that included representatives of the Syrian civil security group "The White Helmets".

"The first demand is an end to the the regime and Russian planes", Hollande said.

"We are talking here about criminal activities, about crimes against the civilians", German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters after what she described as a hard discussion with Putin about the crisis in Syria.

"We informed them of our intention to continue, as much as possible, considering the situation on Syrian territory, a pause in the air strikes".

Russian and Syrian bombardment had been providing air cover for a government offensive that started on September 22 aimed at seizing the city's east, held by rebels since 2012.

According to Moscow, once the pause begins six corridors out of the city would open for civilians with another two - via the Castello Road in the north and Souk al-Hal in the city centre - designated for rebels.

A truce of just a few hours would not be enough to deliver the necessary humanitarian aid and allow civilians to leave the area, Hollande added.

"Before we can do something really meaningful. we need assurances from all parties" over a lasting ceasefire, a spokesman for the UN's humanitarian agency said in Geneva.

While there is no immediate consensus for more sanctions, Britain and France, with support from eastern and Nordic countries, said they could push for them in the coming weeks if Russian Federation continues to bomb the rebel-held east of the city.

Syria analyst Thomas Pierret, of the University of Edinburgh, said the halt in Russian air strikes was about Moscow "managing global pressure". "This is the continuation of war by diplomatic means", he said.

The decision to hold the meeting in Berlin follows a flurry of telephone diplomacy over the past week.



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