France, Germany, tell Putin to ‘intensify’ dialogue on Syria


LONDON: French President Emmanuel Macron told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a telephone call Friday he wanted to “intensify” talks on bringing peace to Syria, Macron’s office said.

“The president of the Republic said he wanted the dialogue between France and Russia to continue and intensify in order to bring peace and stability to Syria,” the French presidency said after the call, which came as the West ponders possible strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “deep concerns” over the deterioration of the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to a statement of the French presidency, Macron calls for dialogue between France and Russia to “continue and intensify” to bring peace and stability to Syria.

He “regretted” the Russian veto at the UN Security Council which prevented a “united and firm response” after a suspected gas attack last week in Douma, Syria.

Western powers must step up the pressure on Russia over its role in the Syrian civil war, Germany’s foreign minister warned on Friday, saying an alleged chemical weapons attack cannot pass “without consequences.”

Macron said Thursday on French national television France has proof that the Syrian government launched chlorine gas attacks and has crossed a line that could prompt French airstrikes.

The US, France and Britain have been consulting about launching a military strike in Syria.

After talks in Brussels with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, Heiko Maas Germany’s foreign minister condemned Moscow — Assad’s key ally — for repeatedly blocking resolutions on Syria at the UN Security Council.

“We must increase pressure on Russia to force it to change attitude. Everyone knows there is only a solution to the conflict in Syria with Russia,” Maas said.

Russia’s latest veto came on Tuesday when it sank a draft Security Council resolution to establish a mechanism to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria following the attack in Douma.

The United States and some of its allies are weighing up whether to launch military strikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime over Saturday’s attack on Douma, the main city in the rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta. The British government now estimates 75 people were killed in the incident.

Russia has stepped up its warnings against Western military action in Syria, which it said could lead to “war.” The UN Security Council will meet again on Friday, at Moscow’s request, to try to defuse the standoff.

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