G20 Foreign Ministers Warn Trump Against US Isolationism

Bonn, GERMANY (Alliance News) - US President Donald Trump must be wary ...

Alliance News 17 February, 2017 | 11:42PM
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Bonn, GERMANY (Alliance News) - US President Donald Trump must be wary against leading the US into isolation, warned foreign ministers Friday as they concluded a two-day meeting of top diplomats from the world's major industrial and emerging nations.

"We need to cooperate with each other rather than isolating each other," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said at the end of the meeting of Group of 20 (G20) foreign ministers in the former German capital of Bonn.

The G20 meeting also marked new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's debut on the world stage. The top US diplomat was drawn into talks on a slew of global issues, including the bloody conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine. 

But the message that Tillerson is likely to take back to the White House is the concern among Washington's allies that Trump's America First stance could lead the US into a period of isolation.  

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters that "it is important and absolutely instrumental for us to have a close dialogue with the US on the Syrian issue and on many other issues."

Ayrault also joined Gabriel in playing down expectations of a breakthrough at peace talks in Geneva next week aimed at ending the six-year Syrian civil war.

"The path before us will be difficult," said Gabriel, standing alongside his French counterpart earlier on Friday.

The two ministers were speaking following talks with other members of the so-called Friends of Syria group in Bonn on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.

"We should not underestimate the difficulties and dangers" said Ayrault. "This is not a done deal."

Gabriel and Ayrault also called on Russia to play a "constructive role" in efforts to end the war in Syria. That conflict has claimed about 400,000 lives, according to UN figures from last year.

"Russia and Iran must call on Syria to stop seeing all members of the [Syrian] opposition as terrorists," so as to allow opposition representatives to play an active role in the United Nations-sponsored peace talks on the war-torn nation in Geneva, the French minister said.

Representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and opposition forces failed this week to reach a breakthrough in talks on humanitarian aid and maintaining a ceasefire in Syria in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana.

Gabriel told reporters that, while it was possible to envisage the Astana talks continuing, they should be channelled into the Geneva peace process.

Initiated by France, Friends of Syria is an international group set up to find a solution to the Syrian conflict after Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution calling on Damascus to join peace efforts.

In addition to Germany and France, Friday's talks on Syria also included envoys from Italy, the US, Britain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Turkey, the EU and Saudi Arabia.

Ayrault said that the election of a new US administration had provided the opportunity to review the prospects for ending the conflict in Syria.

The Friends of Syria also signalled that they plan to meet as often as possible, part of their drive to help end the conflict.

Russia's role in international affairs has been a key issue at the G20 meeting in the former German capital.

During their two-days of deliberations, the G20 ministers have acknowledged that solutions to several of the world's most difficult problems, such as Syria and Ukraine, cannot be found without Moscow's involvement.

The G20 meeting also threw its weight behind the UN's Agenda 30 for sustainable development, which is based on 17 goals such as stamping out poverty, action to combat global warming, gender equality and improving the standard of water supplies.

Copyright dpa

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