Macron: France urged US to strike
France persuaded President Donald Trump to stay in Syria and launch airstrikes as punishment for an alleged chemical-weapons attack, French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday.
Appearing live on French television BFM and online investigative site Mediapart nearly a year into his term, the 40-year-old leader said the U.S., Britain and France had “full international legitimacy to intervene” with the strikes, to enforce international humanitarian law.
The allies fired missiles early Saturday at three chemical-weapons facilities in Syria to punish the regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons in the town of Douma.
“It was retaliation, not an act of war,” Macron said in justifying the operation a day before the French parliament was set to debate it. The airstrikes marked Macron’s biggest foreign policy challenge yet. The new president declared France the most active country in the diplomatic arena and at the United Nations.
“Ten days ago President Trump wanted the United States of America to withdraw from Syria. We convinced him to remain,” he said, speaking in the majestic room of Chaillot National Theater, with the Eiffel Tower shining in the background.
He said France now wants to involve Western powers, Russia and Turkey in a new diplomatic initiative to find a sustainable political solution in Syria.
Macron also offered to play the role of intermediary between the United States and Russia, whose relationship has been on edge over the chemical-weapons attack and amid allegations that Russia tried to interfere in the US 2016 presidential election.
The French leader will make a state visit to the US this week and is scheduled to travel to Russia next month.