PARIS (AP) — The top diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the EU are meeting Thursday in Paris to sketch out a possible new diplomatic push to end fighting in Syria.
The gathering comes amid new jockeying by Russia and increased military action by France and Britain in the region. European officials are warning with new urgency that the refugee crisis has no hope of ending without a political solution in Syria.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she favored including Syrian President Bashar Assad at the negotiating table in the future. "I think one has to speak with many actors. That includes Assad," she said.
Ahead of the meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said previous attempts to resolve the crisis have failed.
"After five years of civil war, 250,000 dead, 12 million refugees, we now need to take a decisive step toward defusing the conflict," Steinmeier said.
A French official who was not authorized to speak publicly about any negotiations on Syria said the hope was for a more dynamic political process, "without Bashar."
Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.