After criticism, France's Macron seeks to reassure Syria opposition

By REUTERS
July 5, 2017 13:40
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PARIS - France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, sought to reassure opponents of Syrian leader Bashar Assad on Wednesday after provoking concern among rebel groups by saying that he saw no legitimate successor to Assad.

Former president Francois Hollande had backed the Syrian opposition, demanding the six-year conflict be resolved through a political transition that would eventually see Assad replaced.

Macron, a centrist elected in May, said last month he no longer considered Assad's departure a pre-condition for a negotiated settlement to the conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven more than 11 million from their homes.

While he described Assad as an enemy of the Syrian people, Macron said Paris' priority was fighting terrorist groups and ensuring Syria did not become a failed state. He also questioned the opposition's credibility.

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