Ready for talk to bring peace back to Syria: Macron

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Paris, April 16 (IANS) French President Emmanuel Macron has said he was ready to talk to all, including Russia and Iran, to pave the way for inclusive political transition in the war-torn Syria.

“I say it from the beginning, to build lasting peace, one needs to dialogue with Iran, Russia and Turkey. France’s policy is to talk with everyone. It’s the condition to have peace,” Macron told news channel BFM TV, RMC radio and Mediapart online news on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

After the US, France and Britain launched missile strikes on the country over an alleged chemical gas attack, the French president noted that Western top priority is preparing “a long-term political alternative which will allow a transition in a constitutional framework.”

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Asked if using military force would restore peace, Macron said that “France is the country that has been the most active in terms of diplomacy and humanitarian aid in recent months, and we came at a time when this strike was essential to give credibility to our community.”

Defending France’s participation in the joint air strikes targeting Syrian government’s chemical capabilities, the 40-year-old head of state called the operation “a legitimate retaliatory act” after evidence proved that chemical gas attack was used in Douma on April 7 and which “could be attributed to” the Syrian government.

“Without declaring war against Bashar al-Assad, the joint strikes achieved their aims without leaving collateral casualties,” confirmed Macron, adding that Damscus’ chemical weapons capabilities have been destroyed.

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“We have complete international legitimacy to act in this framework,” he said.

Breaking with the previous administration’s policy which set the Syrian president’s departure as a pre-condition to resolve the conflict, Macron had previously expressed willingness to speak with Bashar al-Assad to end seven-year conflict.

However, he repeatedly warned the Syrian government that he would intervene military if alleged use of chemical arms would be proved.

Playing up his credibility, he ordered the French armed forces to intervene on Saturday in coordination with American and British forces to strike several Syrian targets, which were alleged by the Western powers as chemical arsenal of the Syrian government.

In the second TV appearance in a week, Macron, disapproved at home, played up his diplomatic credentials saying “France discusses and convinces.”

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“Ten days ago, President Trump was saying the US should withdraw from Syria. We convinced him it was necessary to stay,” Macron told three media outlets.

“We convinced him it was necessary to stay for the long term. We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons after things got a little carried away over tweets,” he added.

Macron said his scheduled trip to Moscow next month would be maintained despite divergence on the Syrian crisis.

–IANS

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