French, Russian FMs discuss Syria by telephone

Sunday 09/10/2016
Severe tensions

PARIS - The foreign ministers of France and Russia discussed Syria by telephone Thursday despite severe tensions over the crisis that led President Vladimir Putin to cancel a visit to Paris.

Jean-Marc Ayrault "reaffirmed France's wish to pursue dialogue with Russia in all frankness," the French foreign ministry said in a statement after his conversation with Russia's Sergei Lavrov.

Ayrault stressed "the urgency to break the current impasse... and achieve a halt in the bombing of Aleppo to allow access for humanitarian aid and open the way for a resumption of negotiations towards a political solution," the statement said.

A heated row broke out between the two countries after Russia on Saturday used its Security Council veto against a French resolution calling for a halt to the bombing of Aleppo.

French President Francois Hollande accused Syrian troops of committing war crimes in Aleppo with Russian support, comments Putin dismissed as "rhetoric".

But the row prompted Putin to postpone a visit to Paris scheduled for next week during which he was to inaugurate a spiritual centre next to a new Russian Orthodox church.

Efforts will continue at the weekend to renew a truce in Syria. Lavrov will meet his US counterpart John Kerry in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday as well as representatives from the Gulf states and Turkey.

Kerry is due in London for talks Sunday with representatives from Britain, France and Germany.