Macron: France urged US to strike

Gulf News - - Middle East -

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.

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