Hollande: Assad blocks political solution for Syria

The French president said Assad is tactically pressuring the moderate Syrian opposition

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There is “no political solution in Syria” with the presence of President Bashar al-Assad, French President Francois Hollande told pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper.

“Assad is not fighting Islamists, he is placing blame on armed Islamist extremists to pressure the moderate opposition,” Hollande told the newspaper in an interview published Sunday, after his arrival to Riyadh on a previously planned visit.

The European president hoped that Geneva 2 will allow for the foundation of “a real process of transition, to avoid dangers of an expanding chaos in Syria and the region.”

Speaking on neighboring Lebanon, Hollande condemned Beirut’s Friday bombing which took the life of former finance minister Mohammad Chatah, whom he called “a man of dialogue and peace,” adding that France is “committed to Lebanon’s sovereignty, and is working relentlessly to help the country overcome security and political difficulties it faces in the context of the Syrian crisis.”

According to Hollande, Saudi Arabia is among France’s “top partners,” as the countries’ outlooks on international economy are convergent and both “share the same goal of supporting growth and development as members of the G20.

“Both countries also share the will to work for peace, security, and stability in the Middle East,” he added.

For this reason, Hollande plans to negotiate regional topics with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, such as “Iran’s nuclear [program], a means of reaching a political solution for the Syrian crisis, and the need to safeguard the Lebanon’s stability.”

The French president also plans to discuss partnerships in the defense and economic sectors, saying “Saudi Arabia is France’s top client in the Middle East.”

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