17, October 2016
French President Francois Hollande says Paris will not change its stance on Moscow’s support for the Syrian government, but is willing to discuss the conflict in the country with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Vladimir Putin does not want to seriously discuss Syria. I am ready at any time, but I will not ease the pressure,” said Hollande during a Sunday interview.
He noted that the subject of the talks would be the halting of anti-terrorist bombing raids, a ceasefire, and the transfer of humanitarian aid. On October 19, a meeting between Putin and Hollande in Paris was canceled after the French president announced he was only willing to talk about the conflict in Syria.
Earlier on Sunday, Putin censured France over its lack of contribution to international efforts aimed at ending the crisis in Syria, saying Paris has not properly responded to Russia’s calls for joint action on Syria.
While noting that “France is not so deeply involved in the settlement of the Syrian conflict,” Putin added that Russia is always prepared to talk about Syria, especially with France.
He also stressed that Putin’s Paris trip was canceled by French authorities who suddenly decided to change the agenda of the trip and raise the issue of Syria.
“We have other issues apart from Syria, we could have discussed other issues,” he said.
Paris-Moscow tensions escalated since Russia vetoed a French resolution at the United Nations Security Council which called for a halt to the bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Putin had accused France of deliberately pushing for the UN proposal to heap pressure on Russia as it knew that Moscow would veto the resolution. He said the move was aimed at “inflaming the situation and fanning hysteria around Russia.” Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy over the past five and a half years.