Germany Urges Iran to Use Its Influence on Assad to End Syrian War

On first visit to Tehran by a German foreign minister in over 10 years, Steinmeier is using his meetings to try and bring Iran into talks with Saudi Arabia on solution for Syrian conflict.

Reuters

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Iran on Saturday to use its influence over Syrian President Bashar Assad to move towards a diplomatic end to Syria's civil war.

"My wish is that Iran uses its influence in the government and on Assad and his entourage so that we take the first steps towards a de-escalation in Syria," he said in Tehran on the first official visit to Iran by a German foreign minister in more than 10 years.

Steinmeier, who is on a four-day trip to the Middle East, will travel to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. He is using his meetings to weigh up how to bring Tehran and Riyadh into talks to reach a solution to the four-year-old Syrian conflict.

On Friday, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters launched an offensive south of Aleppo province, in what a senior Syrian termed as the first time Iranian fighters had taken part on such a scale in the Syrian conflict.

Steinmeier said he wanted Assad's forces to stop using barrel bombs and to allow aid organizations access to people in need of help.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month military efforts were necessary in Syria even though they would not put an end to the civil war.

Germany is not taking part in any military action in Syria but in neighboring Iraq it is providing Kurdish Peshmerga forces with weapons and training.