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OSCE

Germany's Steinmeier closes OSCE meeting of 'marked differences'

Germany's top diplomat said the meeting was tense but nevertheless productive. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier highlighted the need for the OSCE to make itself "more effective" in addressing common problems.

A summit for foreign ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ended on Friday without a unified closing statement amidst "marked differences." In spite of this, Germany's top diplomat Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was satisfied with his year chairing the group.

The three-day summit had focused on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, highlighting the disagreements between Russia and its allies and many Western countries.

Throughout the conference, though Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hinted that there may finally be some agreement with the US about how to implement a ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo, he repeatedly accused the West of misrepresenting the ongoing tensions between Moscow and Kyiv.

Lavrov particularly singled out the German media, saying it was "spearheading the anti-Russian movement." He also responded to Chancellor Angela Merkel's claims that Russian hackers might interfere in Germany's federal election in September, calling them "utter nonsense."

Steinmeier picks up the pieces

All 57 member states must sign off on a joint declaration, so the discord meant that Frank-Walter Steinmeier was left to offer his own conclusions at final press conference following the meeting.

Steinmeier said that while the discussions in Hamburg "highlighted marked differences" between member states, he believed the meeting was a success overall. Together, "ministers had deplored the violation of international law and common principles and commitments in relations between OSCE members," said the German presidential candidate.

He also said that the foreign ministers had discussed the importance of addressing migrant flows, and agreed on structured dialogue for addressing security and arms control between member states.

"We can only respond to the challenges of the times with common answers," Steinmeier said, alluding to other issues such as terrorism and cybercrime. He allowed the caveat, however, that the group did need to make itself "more effective and capable of acting" to address such problems.

es/se (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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