Macron vows action if Syria uses chemical weapons

Versailles: France would respond immediately to any use of chemical weapons in Syria, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday while urging a stepped-up “partnership” with Moscow in fighting the IS group in the country.
“A very clear red line exists on our side, the use of chemical weapons by whomever,” Emmanuel Macron said at a joint news conference in Versailles with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“Our absolute priority is the fight against terrorism and the eradication of terrorist groups and Daesh in particular,” he said, using an alternate name for the IS group.
“It’s the guiding principle of our action in Syria and in which I want… for us to be able to strengthen our partnership with Russia.”
The newly elected French leader said he favoured “a democratic transition” in Syria that would “preserve the Syrian state”.
He added that “failed states in the region are a threat to our democracies, and we have seen each time they have enabled terrorist groups to advance.”
Nevertheless, relations have been beset by mistrust, with Paris and Moscow backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war and at odds over the Ukraine conflict.
Fresh from talks with his Western counterparts at a Nato meeting in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily, Macron was hosting the Russian president at the sumptuous 17th Century palace of Versailles outside Paris.
Amid the baroque splendour, Macron will use an exhibition on Russian Tsar Peter the Great at the former royal palace to try to get Franco-Russian relations off to a new start.
The 39-year-old French leader and Putin exchanged a cordial, businesslike handshake and smiles when the latter stepped from his limousine for a red carpet welcome, with Macron appearing to say “welcome” to him in French.
 — Reuters