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France's Juppé calls Syria's promises "manipulation"

Alain Juppé at the UN Security Council in New York at the end of January
Alain Juppé at the UN Security Council in New York at the end of January Reuters/Mike Segar

France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said Wednesday that President Bashar al-Assad’s promises to Russia to end the violence in Syria were mere manipulation. The comments came after several EU and Gulf countries recalled their ambassadors from Syria.

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Juppé said during a French radio program that he did not believe the commitments made by the Syrian regime and said it was a manipulation “which we are not going to fall for.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron echoed Juppé’s comments, dismissing Assad’s promises. “I think we have very little confidence in that,” he told Parliament.

The statements came after President Assad met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday in Damascus, where he said he was “fully committed” to ending the bloodshed.

Regime forces continued to attack the Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday, which has seen a spike in violence in recent days.

EU leaders are contemplating a ban on flights in and out of Syria, as well as making contingency plans if it needs to evacuate EU citizens from the country.

The 27-member EU bloc is also considering banning phosphate imports from Syria and freezing the Syrian central bank’s assets.

The new raft of sanctions could be adopted during the next meeting of EU ministers on February 27.

EU nations such as France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Belgium have pulled their ambassadors out of Syria, as did the United States on Monday.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have also withdrawn their ambassadors from Damascus.

Russia sparked anger in the West last week when it joined China in vetoing a UN Security Council draft resolution to end the violence in Syria.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the veto a "travesty."
 

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