Putin halts France visit amid row

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has can­celled a planned visit to France amid a row over Syria.

He had been due to meet French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande and open a new Or­tho­dox church later this month.

But after France’s gov­ern­ment said talks would be con­fined to Syria the visit was halted, French pres­i­den­tial sources said.

On Mon­day, Mr Hol­lande sug­gested Rus­sia could face war crimes charges over its bom­bard­ment of Syria’s city of Aleppo.

The French pres­i­dency had told the Rus­sians Mr Hol­lande would only at­tend one event with Mr Putin dur­ing the visit planned for 19 Oc­to­ber - a work­ing meet­ing on Syria, ac­cord­ing to the sources.

But after this Rus­sia “let it be known that it wanted to post­pone the visit”, they added.

A Krem­lin source cited on Rus­sian state media con­firmed the meet­ing would not go ahead.

It comes a day after Mr Hol­lande told French TV prose­cu­tions over Syria could take place in the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

“These are peo­ple who to­day are the vic­tims of war crimes. Those that com­mit these acts will have to face up to their re­spon­si­bil­ity, in­clud­ing in the ICC,” he said. Nei­ther Rus­sia nor Syria is a mem­ber of the ICC. Moscow has re­peat­edly de­nied at­tack­ing civil­ians, and says it tar­gets ter­ror­ist groups in Syria.

Last week Rus­sia ve­toed a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion drafted by France call­ing for an end to the bomb­ing in Aleppo.

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