Assad says France sponsors terrorism, cannot talk about peace

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AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al Assad attacked France on Tuesday, accusing it of supporting bloodshed in his country making it unfit to talk about a peace settlement.

“France spearheaded support for terrorism and their hands are soaked in Syrian blood from the first days and we do not see they have changed their stance fundamentally,” Assad was quoted in state media as telling reporters after meeting a Russian delegation on Monday.

“Those who support terrorism  have no right to talk about peace,” he added.

France on Friday accused Syria of doing nothing to reach a peace agreement after almost seven years of war and said it was committing mass crimes in the Eastern Ghouta region where 400,000 people are besieged by government forces.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday France would push for peace talks involving all parties in the six-year-old Syrian conflict, including President Bashar al-Assad, promising “initiatives” early next year.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was more blunt, quoted by Le Figaro.

Mr Assad does not seem to be in a position to take a political stance as long as he is dependent on Russia and Iran,” Le Drian said.

“When you have spent your days massacring your people, you should be generally a little more discrete,” Le Drian was quoted as saying during a trip to Washington.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Richard Lough in Paris)

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