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France to host Kerry, Lavrov to push Syria peace conference

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry are to be in Paris Monday night
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and US Secretary of State John Kerry are to be in Paris Monday night Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
3 min

France is to host a big-power meeting to push for a conference on the Syrian conflict, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on Sunday. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov will be in Paris on Monday night to prepare the meeting, planned for next month.

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"I hope we will find elements for this conference to take place because the Syrian tragedy is causing deaths, dozens of deaths, each day, and we must find a political solution," said Fabius on a brief visit to Abu Dhabi.

The three will discuss questions such as the agenda and who will take part.

France has reservations about Iran attending.

"Given that Iran does not want a political solution, bringing along that country [...] risks preventing a political solution rather than favouring one," he said. "We see, unfortunately, that day after day Iran's forces are strongly engaged on the side of [Syrian President] Bashar-Assad, and this is certainly not the way to advance peace."

Two rockets hit areas loyal to the Shia-Muslim Hezbollah movement in Beirut on Sunday in an attack apparently linked to the group fighting alongside Assad’s forces in Syria.

Fabius condemned the attacks; saying it was crucial to "avoid the war in Syria becoming a war in Lebanon".

Between 180 and 200 French citizens have traveled to Syria in the past year to join the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, Le Monde newspaper reported on Saturday, citing figures from France's internal DCRI and external DGSE security services.

That number, which is higher than a previous estimate of about 50, includes fighters who took up arms with rebel groups like the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. About two dozen have already returned to France, Le Monde said, adding that the authorities are worried that some might take violent action here.

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