Monday, April 25, 2016

Obama sees 'safe zones' in Syria unpractical

An idea of setting up "safe zone" inside Syria is unpractical as it requires "big military commitment", said the United States President Barack Obama in Germany on Sunday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that Germany is seeking to create "safe zones" in Syria to protect refugees fleeing wars. In a joint press conference with Merkel in the northern German city of Hanover on Sunday, Obama said the U.S. government had reviewed such kind of proposals "multiple times", but found them difficult to implement.

"It's a very practical issue about how you do it," Obama said after talking to Merkel in his final visit to Germany as the U.S. President, "Sadly, it is very difficult to see how would it operate short of going to militarily take over a big chunk of that country. That requires big military commitment."

Obama raised questions including "who's going to put a bunch of ground troops inside Syria, how do you let people in, who do you let in and how is it monitored".

He added that the best way to protect the Syrians is to put political process on track and create an inclusive government.

Merkel said in the same press conference that safe zones in Syria are areas where particular obligations apply for all different parties in order to protect refugees and where humanitarian access can be guaranteed.

But she emphasized that the creation of safe zones is "not about influencing the matter from the outside", it needs to come out of political talks in Geneva instead.

Obama arrived in Hanover at noon on Sunday for the last stop of a six-day visit to three nations. He will jointly launch with Merkel the Hannover Messe, the world's biggest industrial trade fair with the U.S. as the partner country this year.

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