French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump (L) attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 13, 2017 © Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
France has shifted its priorities from ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to defeating terrorism and seeking political stability at home, French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump.
“On the Iraq-Syria situation, we have agreed to continue working together, in particular on the building of a roadmap for the post-war period,” Macron said during a joint news conference in the aftermath of talks with Donald Trump in Paris. “We have asked our diplomats to work in that direction, so in the next few weeks a concrete initiative can be taken and managed by the P5 [the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council(UNSC)].”
The so-called “contact group” on Syria, according to Macron, should include UN Security Council members, as well as representatives of the Syrian government and rebel groups.
President Assad’s departure is no longer as relevant for Paris, as fighting terrorism at home has now become the top priority, Macron stated.
“Indeed, we now have a new approach in Syria, because we want results and we want to work closely together with all our partners including the United States. We have one main goal which is to eradicate terrorism, no matter who they are, we want to build an inclusive and sustainable political solution,” Macron said. “I do not require Assad’s departure, that’s no longer a prerequisite for France. For seven years, we did not have an embassy in Damascus – and still we have no solution.”
Donald Trump confirmed that the US and Russia are working on a second ceasefire agreement in Syria as a follow up to the one he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed upon during their first meeting on the sidelines of G20.
“One of the great things that came out if this meeting, by the way, was the fact that we got the ceasefire that now has lasted for almost five days. Five days doesn’t sound like a long period of time. In terms of a ceasefire in Syria it’s a very long period of time,” Trump said.
“That was a result of having communication with a country. During that five day period a lot of lives have been saved, a lot of people were not killed, no shots have been fired in a very, very dangerous part of the world and this is one of the most dangerous parts of Syria itself,” he added.
“By having some communication and dialogue we were able to have a ceasefire and it’s going to go on for a while. And frankly we’re working on the second ceasefire in a very rough part of Syria.”
The French President stressed the importance of maintaining good relations with Russia, especially with regard to solving the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.
“We have a lot of disagreements, we have a lot discrepancies obviously with Russia. But in the current environment, especially in the Middle East, it’s a necessity to work together to exchange information, to share disagreements, and to try to build solutions,” Macron stated.
Trump has arrived in Paris for his first official visit to France on Thursday. Apart from discussing international and bilateral relations with his French counterpart, the US president is to attend a Bastille Day parade in the French capital on Friday.