Hol­lande un­cer­tain about Putin visit after Aleppo veto

The Myanmar Times - - World -

FRENCH Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande has not yet de­cided whether to meet Rus­sian leader Vladimir Putin in Paris next week, after the Krem­lin blocked a UN bid to end the bomb­ing of Aleppo.

Mr Putin is due in Paris on Oc­to­ber 19 to in­au­gu­rate a new Or­tho­dox church near the Eif­fel Tower in a visit that is fast turn­ing into a diplo­matic headache for France.

On Oc­to­ber 9, Mr Hol­lande left open the ques­tion of whether he would re­ceive Mr Putin, de­scrib­ing the scorched earth cam­paign in the Syr­ian city of Aleppo as a war crime.

“I asked my­self the ques­tion ... Is it use­ful? Is it nec­es­sary? Can it be a way of ex­ert­ing pres­sure? Can we get him to stop what he is do­ing with the Syr­ian regime?” Mr Hol­lande told the TMC chan­nel.

The Krem­lin, how­ever, said prepa­ra­tions for Mr Putin’s visit were con­tin­u­ing as sched­uled.

“There are plans for talks with the El­y­see Palace and Mr Putin will take part in the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the Rus­sian spir­i­tual cen­tre,” his spokesper­son Dmitry Peskov said.

Paris had not in­formed Moscow of any changes to their plans, he added.

For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Marc Ayrault told France In­ter ra­dio that Mr Hol­lande would de­cide whether to meet with Mr Putin “in light of the sit­u­a­tion in Aleppo and Syria”.

If Mr Hol­lande agrees to meet Mr Putin, “it will not be for pleas­antries, it will be to speak the truth,” he said, call­ing the Syr­ian and Rus­sian bom­bard­ments a “gift to ter­ror­ists”.

Mr Ayrault was given short shrift in Moscow last week as he tried in vain to per­suade his op­po­site num­ber Sergei Lavrov to im­ple­ment the Aleppo cease­fire plan.

But Mr Ayrault said Rus­sia was still “a part­ner” of France and there might also be talks to try to re­solve the con­flict in eastern Ukraine.

He did not give de­tails but France and Ger­many have for weeks been try­ing to or­gan­ise a meet­ing be­tween Mr Hol­lande, Mr Putin, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko.

Dur­ing his visit on Oc­to­ber 10 to Is­tan­bul, Mr Putin out­lined a po­ten­tial first step to­ward get­ting badly needed aid into Aleppo.

“We have a com­mon po­si­tion which is to do ev­ery­thing to get hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to Aleppo ... The prob­lem is en­sur­ing the safety of these de­liv­er­ies,” Mr Putin said.

Rus­sia blocked a draft French UN res­o­lu­tion call­ing for an end to the bar­rage of air strikes on the city’s re­bel­held east that have es­ca­lated in the last month.

It was the fifth time that Rus­sia used its veto to block UN ac­tion to end the five-year war in Syria, which has claimed 300,000 lives. –

Photo: AFP

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan (right) meets Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin at Mabeyn Palace, in a hand­out pic­ture re­leased by the Turk­ish Pres­i­dency Press Ser­vice on Oc­to­ber 10.

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