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France: Putin Will Not Meet With Hollande for Syria-Only Talks

By VOA News
October 11, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin has canceled a planned visit to France after French President Francois Hollande insisted their meeting focus solely on Syria.

Putin was due to travel to Paris October 19 for a visit that would include inaugurating a new Orthodox church.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Putin is ready to meet with Hollande at a convenient time for the French leader, while Hollande said in a speech Tuesday that he remains ready for talks if they "further peace."

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Russia could face war crimes over its bombing campaign in Syria's northern city of Aleppo.

Ayrault told France Inter radio the bombings are war crimes, and extend to "all those who are complicit for what's happening in Aleppo, including Russian leaders."

He said France would consult with prosecutors from the International Criminal Court to see how to launch investigations.

"We do not agree with what Russia is doing, bombarding Aleppo. France is committed as never before to saving the population of Aleppo," Ayrault said.

Russia has repeatedly denied attacking civilians in Syria, saying it targets terrorist groups in support of President Bashar al-Assad's government.

On Saturday, Russia blocked a United Nations Security Council resolution proposed by France and Spain on ending the bombing in Syria.

It is not clear how the ICC could investigate the bombings in Aleppo because neither Russia nor Syria is a member of the International Criminal Court. The matter could be referred to the court by the U.N. Security Council, but Russia, along with China, has used its veto power on the council to block several previous draft resolutions aimed at the Syrian government during the country's conflict.

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