October 11, 2016 6:17:36 pm
French President Francois Hollande said today he was prepared to meet Vladimir Putin “at any time… to further peace” after his Russian counterpart cancelled a visit to Paris in a row over Syria.
Hollande, speaking in the northeastern French city of Strasbourg, said Paris and Moscow had a “major disagreement” over Syria.
The Kremlin said Putin called off the October 19 visit to inaugurate an Orthodox church in the French capital but is “ready to visit when it is comfortable for President Hollande.”
Moscow will “wait for when that comfortable time comes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in the Russian capital.
Hollande said Monday that Syrian President Bashar al- Assad’s troops had committed a “war crime” in Aleppo with Russia’s support.
“Those who commit these acts will have to pay for their involvement, including at the International Criminal Court,” Hollande said in an interview with TMC.
French officials said earlier today that Putin wanted to postpone the visit to Paris after the French presidency insisted he hold talks with Hollande about Syria.
The presidency said it told the Kremlin that the only event Hollande wanted to attend with Putin during the visit would be a “working meeting” on Syria.
The long-planned visit to Paris to inaugurate the church near the Eiffel Tower had been billed primarily as “private”.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Putin would hold talks with Hollande on Syria, where Russian forces have carried out air strikes on besieged rebel- held areas of Aleppo in support of the Syrian regime’s offensive.
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