- Title: Hollande: dialogue with Russia on Syria must be "frank and firm"
- Date: 11th October 2016
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (FILE - OCTOBER 2, 2015) (REUTERS) RUSSIAN PRESIDENT, VLADIMIR PUTIN, ARRIVING AT ELYSEE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE, GREETING HOLLANDE, GOING INSIDE
- Embargoed: 26th October 2016 12:40
- Keywords: Hollande Russia Putin Syria Aleppo Ukraine Minsk Council of Europe
- Location: PARIS AND STRASBOURG, FRANCE
- City: PARIS AND STRASBOURG, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00353K8YFB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday (October 11) that talks with Russia on Syria were vital but that they must be "frank and firm", as President Vladimir Putin cancelled a trip to Paris.
The Russian president had been scheduled to inaugurate a new Russian Orthodox cathedral and visit a Russian art exhibition in the French capital on October 19.
Hollande said he had not planned to accompany him and had only offered talks on Syria.
French officials have been grappling for ways to put new pressure on Russia after Moscow vetoed a French-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria. French officials' growing anger over a Russian-backed Syrian government onslaught against rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo had led them to reconsider whether to host Putin.
"I think it is necessary to have dialogue," Hollande said during a speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
"But it must be firm and frank otherwise it has no role to play, otherwise it's just a charade. So I'm ready to meet President Putin if we can make progress on peace, stop the bombings and implement a ceasefire," he added.
The Kremlin confirmed Putin's decision, but made no mention of Syria and said he was ready to come to Paris at Hollande's convenience.
Hollande also said that the possibility of talks, including with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, remained open with Russia to secure a diplomatic solution to the conflict in east Ukraine.
"I'll be quite clear: progress is too slow. We need to move forward on the political conditions which would allow elections to take place in east Ukraine as quickly as possible, as set out in the Minsk accords, in line with Ukrainian law and respecting international criteria," Hollande said.
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