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European diplomats mull new strategy to end Syria fighting

PARIS -- The top diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the European Union are sketching out a possible new diplomatic push to end the fighting in Syria.

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Their meeting Thursday in Paris comes amid new jockeying by Russia and increased military action by France and Britain in the region.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that Russian fighter jets in Syria have started flying airfield familiarization and pilot proficiency flights.

European officials are warning with new urgency that the refugee crisis now engulfing the continent has no hope of ending without a political solution in Syria.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she favored including Syrian President Bashar Assad at the negotiating table in the future.

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"I think one has to speak with many actors. That includes Assad," she said Wednesday.

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.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday's meeting aimed to lay the groundwork for more in-depth talks at the U.N. General Assembly, which begins Monday in New York.

But, Fabius said, "Bashar Assad cannot represent the future of a people in a country that he has martyred."

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