German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's call to financially contribute to the Syria reconstruction.
According to Press TV, speaking after talks with Putin outside Berlin on Saturday, Merkel said the focus should rather be on averting a Syrian army operation to retake the terrorist-held Province of Idlib.
Her retort came after the Russian leader underlined the need for assistance to rebuild Syria and ensure that refugees could safely return to their homeland.
"We need to strengthen the humanitarian effort in the Syrian conflict," he said. "By that, I mean above all humanitarian aid to the Syrian people, and help the regions where refugees living abroad can return to."
The Russian president also put the number of refugees in Turkey at three million while Jordan and Lebanon each host one million refugees.
The refugees, he noted, are "potentially a huge burden on Europe, so it is better to do everything possible so that they can return home.”
Putin emphasized that Syria's basic services such as water supplies and health care should be properly restored.
The German chancellor, however, showed reluctance to financially engage in the Syria reconstruction process and stressed that the priority in Syria was "to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe," particularly in Idlib.
Germany is a member of the US-led coalition which has been bombarding Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. The aerial assaults have killed many civilians and destroyed Syria's infrastructure.
The Syrian army is preparing for a major military campaign in Idlib Province, the last remaining terrorist stronghold, after liberating much of the country's south near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights from the grip of Takfiri terrorists.