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France lashes out at Russia for Syria deadlock

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

French President Francois Hollande on Friday lamented the deadlock over Syria, lashing out at Russia for not pressuring President Bashar al-Assad to step down and allow for a political transition in the conflict-torn country.

Hollande said that although he will try to convince the Syrian opposition to negotiate with others than the Syrian leader, "the Russians still need to reach out and convince Bashar al-Assad to stand aside".

"For the moment we're still not there," he added.

The president's comments come after Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday reiterated that Moscow has no intention of pushing Assad to quit, saying it would be against Russian policy to do so and would be unlikely to happen anyway.

In a statement later Friday, the French presidential office said Hollande had congratulated Syrian opposition chief Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib on the Arab League's recent decision to recognise the Coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

Hollande "supports al-Khatib's initiative of proposing a political dialogue" and "reiterates France's consistent stance that a transition involves the departure of Bashar al-Assad", it said.

The United Nations estimate that more than 70,000 people have been killed and around one million people have been displaced since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011.

pg/ln/boc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130308/france-lashes-out-at-russia-syria-deadlock