18:18 23.03.2016

Rapid return of refugees to Syria cannot be expected – Steinmeier

Berlin is not expecting a rapid return of refugees to Syria following a partial withdrawal of the Russian Aerospace Forces; other factors will be contributing to that, and Moscow will have to pressure Damascus, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said.

"If we manage to bolster the ceasefire regime, to provide supplies to people across Syria and to make progress at the peace talks, then the refugee flow could really reduce. We can achieve this goal only by joint efforts. Russia's influence on the al-Assad regime plays a very important role," Steinmeier told Interfax in an exclusive interview ahead of his visit to Moscow.

Asked whether he saw the decision of Moscow as a positive factor, which could promote the return of refugees to Syria, the German foreign minister said, "Although serious progress has been made towards ceasefire, we have not advanced that much. Hundreds of thousands of people in Syria are still cut off from food and medicine supplies."

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