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France seeks greater role for West in Syrian crisis

2 min

Paris (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron called Thursday for Western nations to play a greater role in ending the war in Syria, saying the crisis could not be resolved by just "a few" foreign powers.

His comments came as Russia, Turkey and Iran are hoping to hold a "Congress of National Dialogue" on Syria in the Black Sea resort of Sochi this month, part of an effort that critics say is sidelining UN-backed talks in Geneva.

Macron said the international community should "not give ground to certain powers which think that just a few, recognising one part of the opposition from the outside, will be able to find a stable and lasting solution for the situation in Syria," he said.

"In this context, the United Nations, regional powers, Europe and the United States have a great responsibility, and I will fully commit... to succeeding in building the peace in Syria," he told the diplomatic corps in Paris.

Macron is due to meet Friday with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who backs the rebels fighting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, while Moscow and Teheran have thrown their support behind Damascus.

The French leader also said that peace in Syria and neighbouring Iraq is urgently required in order to avoid any resurgence in jihadist attacks once the Islamic State was defeated "militarily".

France will focus its efforts on ensuring free and secure elections in Iraq this spring, and appeared to target Iran by calling for "vigilance" over "any destabilisation linked to foreign powers," said Macron.

He added that France would pursue talks with Iran aimed at a "framework accord" on its influence in the Middle East, in order to safeguard its landmark nuclear deal with foreign powers, which US President Donald Trump has threatened to drop.

Referring to the street protests that have rocked Iran in recent days, Macron said "We will continue to watch that these rights (freedom of thought and demonstrations) be fully respected".

But in a rebuke of Trump's Twitter posts calling for regime change, Macron insisted that any decision on the country's future must come from "the Iranians themselves".

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