BERLIN (Reuters) - A top member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives on Thursday dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin's push to host a new Syrian peace process with the backing of Iran and Turkey, calling it "the height of cynicism."
The leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey on Wednesday called on the Syrian government and moderate opposition to "participate constructively" in the planned congress, to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Juergen Hardt, foreign policy speaker for Merkel's conservatives in parliament, said Russia had repeatedly blocked efforts by the U.N. Security Council to find a constructive solution to end the Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year.
"It is the height of cynicism that, of all countries, Russia and Iran, which fuelled the civil war in Syria in their own interests, causing the deaths of thousands of people, now want to develop a political vision for Syria's future," Hardt said.
Hardt said Germany's conservatives hoped that the announcement of a ceasefire was serious, and would lead to a permanent halt in fighting in Syria and an end to mass death, flight and expulsion.
"Russia, Iran and the dictatorial regime in Syria could have achieved this long ago if they had wanted to," Hardt said, noting that a solution could not be achieved under conditions set by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hardt said a lasting peace could only be achieved if all parties were involved, and that, in turn, was only possible under a peace process led by the United Nations.
The German foreign ministry had no immediate comment on Putin's new initiative.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Editing by William Maclean)