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Merkel, Li urge political solution to Syrian crisis

Germany and China have agreed on finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria. Following her meeting with Chinese PM Li in Beijing, Chancellor Merkel said the format of Syrian talks was being worked out.

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Merkel, Li urge political solution to Syrian crisis

"We need a diplomatic political solution," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Beijing on Thursday. "It is urgent to find one. At least there are signs for a format of talks that will bring the necessary participants together."

In a visit aimed at boosting trade ties with the Asian economic power, one of Merkel's tasks is also to press the Chinese leadership on using its relationship with Russia to help resolve the Syria crisis.

Prime Minister Li Keqiang was in agreement with Merkel that the urgency of resolving the protracted dispute 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," Li told reporters, adding that world leaders had made suggestions about how to improve the situation in the Middle Eastern country.

China's Premier Li Keqiang and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) inspect honour guards during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, October 29, 2015 (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee +++ Copyright: Reuters/J. Lee)

Angela Merkel was greeted by Premier Li Keqiang upon landing in Beijing

"We hope that we can put together these suggestions, and particularly through the United Nations, this organization, advance the resolution of the Syria issue," he said, offering China's help in this regard.

China, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's major allies along with Russia, has repeatedly said that the West needs to engage with the embattled Syrian leader. Last month, Moscow began its airstrikes campaign in Syria. Western countries claim that Russia is propping up Assad's regime by targeting moderate rebels fighting against Assad's forces.

For Merkel it is crucial to find a way to end the political impasse in Syria as Germany struggles to handle its large influx of migrants, many of whom are refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

Economic deals

Merkel and Li also presided over several signings, including a deal for Chinese airlines to buy about 100 A320 airplanes and another 30 A330s manufactured by Airbus Group worth $17 billion (15.5 billion euros). The deal is described as "one of the largest orders that China has ever placed" with Airbus.

Additional agreements included a strategic cooperation between the German engineering company Voith and the China Three Gorges Corporation, which constructed a massive dam on the Yangtze River.

Merkel's China visit comes at a time when the East Asian country's economy is slowing down. The German leader, however, said she had trust in China's economic development.

On Thursday, the German chancellor arrived in Beijing with 20 business leaders. One of the industry heavyweights accompanying Merkel is newly minted Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller, who is expected to speak about the company's emissions scandal.

Merkel was due to meet President Xi Jinping later in the day. On Friday, she will join Li on a visit to the city of Hefei in the eastern province of Anhui, where the chancellor will meet a local family and tour a village school. It marks the first time Li has invited a foreign leader to his home province.

Friday will also see Merkel attend a meeting of German and Chinese business leaders.

shs/kms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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