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France expects Russia to clarify its stance on foreign forces’ pullout from Syria

May 23, 2018, 11:14 UTC+3 PARIS

Macron will pay a two-day official visit to St. Petersburg on May 24-25 at the invitation of the Russian president

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PARIS, May 23. /TASS/. France hopes that Russia will clarify its position on the pullout of foreign forces from Syria during the upcoming meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio station on Wednesday.

Macron will pay a two-day official visit to St. Petersburg on May 24-25 at the invitation of the Russian president and attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum as an honorary guest.

Commenting on the Russian leadership’s call for pulling foreign forces out of Syria, Le Drian said he hopes to get clarification on the forces of which countries were meant. "There are many troops in Syria, including American, Turkish, Iranian, Russian and just a small number of French forces," the top French diplomat said.

According to Le Drian, "Russia is not seeking the deterioration of the situation." Paris and Moscow share stance on the war on terror, he said, noting that peaceful settlement is needed, but its process has been stonewalled.

"Dialogue with all participants is needed for solving humanitarian and political problems," he said. "The channels of talks between all countries should be used," the French foreign minister stressed. These contacts are pressing as tensions in the region are mounting, he noted.

At a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Sochi last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope that in connection with the Syrian army’s achievements in the fight against terrorism and the beginning of a more active phase of the political process "foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the Syrian Arab Republic." Answering reporters’ questions on which countries were meant and whether Iran was among them, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov recalled that some countries kept their soldiers and officers on Syrian soil "in a de facto illegitimate regime from the perspective of international law." He stressed that Russia is in Syria at the Syrian leadership’s request and has all legitimate grounds for that. However, far from all countries deployed their troops to Syria legitimately from the legal point of view, he added.

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