>> Angela Merkel urging Russia to halt the criminal bombardment of civilians in Syria. The German chancellor and French president pressing Moscow to keep air strikes on hold. Reuters' Paul Carol is in Berlin.>> Both Merkel and Hollande expressed their horror at Russian bombing of civilians in Syria. Hollande actually used the term war crimes and they both criticized Russia for bombing civilians under the pretense of fighting terrorism.
This issue will be taken up again at the European Union Summit in Brussels starting later today. No decisions on further sanctions against Russia for its actions in Syria are expected to be taken there. However Merkel has said that further sanctions remain an option that's still on the table.
>> Russia says it is ready to extend an eight hour pause in air strikes. But the French president has warned a much longer respite is needed in order to get humanitarian aid in.>>
> The main point is that the population of Aleppo or at least some of its districts cannot continue to live in unbearable conditions.
>> The two leaders do have a bit of good news for their EU peers though. This week's talks aimed at stopping violence in East Ukraine making progress. It was the first get together of the three heads of state and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in over a year. The foursome agreeing a preliminary road map to bring in the Minsk peace deal reached in February, 2015.
Ukrainian troops and Russian backed separatists will withdraw from four new areas on the front line and the process will be watched over by international monitors. The deal coming with a big caveat from Merkel though. There's still hard work ahead.