BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on Thursday that there must be a political solution to the crisis in Syria.
China has repeatedly expressed opposition to the use of force to resolve the crisis in Syria, saying that a political solution was the only way out.
Russia last month began air strikes on targets in Syria in a dramatic escalation of foreign involvement in the civil war. This has been criticized by the West as an attempt to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, rather than its purported aim of attacking Islamic State.
Li said the urgency of resolving the Syria situation issue was rising.
“The most important thing is to seize the opportunity to implement a political resolution and set up an equal, inclusive and open political dialogue,” he told reporters.
He said many global leaders had made suggestions about how to tackle the crisis.
“We hope that we can put together these suggestions, and particularly through the United Nations, this organization, advance the resolution of the Syria issue,” Li said, adding China would continue to play a “constructive role”.
“We need a diplomatic political solution,” Merkel said. “It is urgent to find one. At least there are signs for a format of talks that will bring the necessary participants together.”
The United States and its allies have also been carrying out air strikes in Syria against Islamic State, and have supported opposition groups fighting Assad.
While China generally votes with fellow permanent U.N. Security Council member Russia on the Syria issue, it has expressed concern about interference in Syria’s internal affairs and repeatedly called for a political solution.
China, a low-key diplomatic player in the Middle East despite its dependence on the region for its oil, has warned many times military action cannot end the crisis.
Merkel is under intense pressure for her handling of a wave of refugees in Germany, mainly from Syria and Afghanistan.
Berlin expects between 800,000 and a million migrants to arrive in Germany this year, twice as many as in any year before.
Li said China was extremely concerned about the refugee crisis but that China expresses its “high degree of approval” to the relevant countries for their effort to appropriately settle the refugees and avoid a humanitarian crisis.
“The European Union and Germany, with the efforts of the international community, have the ability to address this challenge.”
Reporting by Michael Martina; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie