The German government hopes that a demilitarized zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib will bring a lasting peace to the region, the cabinet’s spokesman said Saturday.

“It was an important first step to avert a large-scale military offensive and a humanitarian disaster. Now the question is how it can be transformed into a lasting ceasefire in Idlib,” the spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a video address.

The spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel made the statement ahead of the flight to Istanbul where Merkel was to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and France’s Emmanuel Macron.

Seibert also noted that the chancellor “is convinced that every opportunity must be explored to end the seven-and-a-half-year suffering and use every communication channel with key actors.”

According to the spokesperson, the four-party talks were expected to advance a UN-led political process to secure peace in Syria and the launch of a constitutional committee that will allow for a free vote in the future.

Earlier in the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Istanbul on Saturday to take part in a quadrilateral summit on the Syrian settlement where he is joined by his international counterparts: French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the Kremlin’s press service, the four leaders will discuss Syria and “several other pressing international issues.” 

In July, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey was planning to hold a summit on the Syrian crisis settlement with France, Germany, and Russia in early September. However, the meeting was later scheduled for October 27.

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