PARIS, April 10. /TASS/. Preparations for French President Emmanuel Macron’s May visit to Russia are still underway, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said on Tuesday.
"The official visit has not been thrown into question so far," he told the Europe 1 radio station when asked whether recent developments in Syria could affect the French president’s visit to Russia. "There is the need to hold talks if differences arise, which is in line with the principle of multilateralism," Griveaux added.
"Isolating one country from another is out of the question. But at the same time, those responsible [for Syrian developments] should be established. As it is known, big regional powers - Turkey, Iran and Russia in particular - have been exerting pressure on the region," the French government spokesman said.
He repeated Macron’s statement in which the French president had said that "in case a red line is crossed in Syria, the need will arise to take retaliatory actions."
"Following the events of the recent days - and you know about the horrifying pictures there are in this connection - Macron and US President Donald Trump exchanged information, which confirms the use of chemical weapons. In this regard, they have handed down instructions to continue investigative activities. An important meeting of the United Nations Security Council has also been held in New York," Griveaux noted.
When asked if Syrian developments would influence the Western leaders’ plans to attend the Russia-hosted 2018 FIFA World Cup, the French government spokesman said that "at the moment, there is the need to sort out the Syria issue and then we will decide whether Western officials should attend the World Cup."
A number of non-government organizations, including the White Helmets, allege that a chemical weapons attack took place in Eastern Ghouta’s town of Douma on April 7. In their April 8 statement, the White Helmets claimed that the attack had particularly involved chlorine-filled bombs. According to the White Helmets, dozens died in the attack, while 500 people "reached the medical centers with symptoms of exposure to chemicals."
The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the statement as a bogus story, while Russia’s Defense Ministry pointed out that the White Helmets were not a reliable source of information as they were known for spreading fabricated news.
On April 9, officers from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria inspected Douma but did not find any traces of chemical weapons.
Russian officials many times warned about impending provocations and staged chemical weapons attacks in Syria.