France says Syria's Assad must be first to end violence

By REUTERS
March 16, 2012 15:12

 
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PARIS - France insisted on Friday that any UN Security Council resolution on Syria must go beyond calling for a truce and push for a political transition, with President Bashar Assad taking a unilateral step to stop the violence.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in an interview in Le Monde newspaper these were "red lines" for France and said he saw "a slight evolution" in the position of Russia, the most outspoken opponent of demands for regime change in Syria.

Russia has called for both government and opposition forces to agree a ceasefire and insisted there must be no precondition to a political dialogue, such as Assad's exit from power.

"I have two red lines. I cannot accept that we put the oppressors and victims in the same boat. The regime must initiate the cessation of hostilities," Juppe told Le Monde.

"The second red line: we cannot be satisfied with just a humanitarian and ceasefire resolution. There must be a reference to a political settlement based on the Arab League proposal."

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