French president: ‘a political solution’ best to solve Syria crisis

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French President Francois Hollande said “everything must be done to seek a political solution” to end the Syrian crisis after meeting with the Syrian opposition chief, Ahmed al-Jarba, who earlier championed military action against regime of President Bashar al-Assad, in Paris on Thursday.

“Everything must be done for a political solution but it will only happen if the coalition is able to appear as an alternative with the necessary force, notably from its army,” Reuters quoted Hollande as saying to reporters.

The French leader, however, said that a political solution could only happen if the international community can halt the killings and better support the Syrian opposition.

Hollande’s statement came after Jarba, head of the Syrian National Coalition, told the daily Le Parisien that he will urge the French president to prod the West to topple Assad and bring him to trial before the International Criminal Court.

A French government spokeswoman made another statement that indicates France’s retreat from a military option against Syria, saying that Western plans for retaliatory action against Assad’s regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack are “difficult to develop,” Agence France-Presse reported.

“The international community must find a riposte that is adapted to the situation,” Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told France 2 television.

She said it was “necessary to obtain the adhesion of several allies and partners at the heart of the U.N. Security Council, which we are trying to do” but added that “states like Russia and China pose a certain number of problems.”

The aim of military action “will not simply be to punish the Syrian regime and prevent it from carrying out a new attack of this type ... but also to seek a way out of this crisis.”

“It’s extremely important for the international community if it intervenes to do so in a manner that the country can recover.”

Meanwhile, Britain has been pushing for permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution which would have authorized measures to protect civilians in Syria.

On Thursday, Ministry of Defense said Britain has sent six RAF Typhoon jets to its Akrotiri base in Cyprus in a move to protect British interests as tensions grow over Syria.

“This is purely a prudent and precautionary measure to ensure the protection of UK interests and the defense of our Sovereign Base Areas at a time of heightened tension in the wider region,” AFP quoted the ministry as saying.

However, it added that the jets would not take part in any direct military action against Syria.

Syria’s most powerful international ally, Russia, said it will sent to ships to the east Mediterranean to strengthen its naval presence because of the “well-known situation” there, Reuters quoted the Interfax news agency as saying.

(With AFP and Reuters)