The two-pronged diplomatic activity between France and Russia has been more of an overt war on the level of press conferences [only] devoted to retort and counter-retort. [Novice] French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has embarked on the debate when he held an urgent news conference last Tuesday, shortly after the joint press conference for both the Russian and Iranian Foreign Ministers in Tehran. The Chief of the French diplomacy has spoken of a Russian initiative on an international meeting for the P5 and the countries wielding influence on the Syrian crisis.
Fabius, who said his country refused to participate in the meeting with Iran attending, was actually lobbing jabs on the Russian initiative, which shall undoubtedly make inroads in the "Friends of Syria" Paris conference on forthcoming July 6. He hasn't even camouflaged his prod, especially not when he said, "we have sent invitations to 150 countries to attend the conference in Paris; now what do we do?"
The French Foreign Minister also sternly lashed out at Russia when he accused it of gearing up the Syrian regime with weapons and called it to renege on its position in this regard.
This news conference also came following the return of the French delegation from Moscow. The delegation comprised the French Ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevalier, and former diplomat Jean-Claude Cousseran. The urgent news conference and the sever tone were clear-cut evidence on the fiasco of the French delegation's mission in Moscow.
Furthermore, later during the same week on Friday, the war of press conferences returned. The French Foreign Minister started his day with an interview on a French radio (RFI), where he said that France and Russia were discussing the post-Assad stage. "Paris has decided to provide the Syrian opposition with modern communication means," he said, adding that his country believes that it is about time for Bashar Assad to leave, owing to the "opposition's military victory."
This is a new French stance that just seems to be the result of exchanged escalation with Russia.
Less than half an hour after Fabius's statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disclaimed, part and parcel, what the French Foreign Minister has said. He said that the Security Council would not approve to change the Syrian regime, denying that Syria has held talks with any western power about post-Assad Syria.
Lavrov's remarks came in the wake of a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, in Moscow. He said Russia is confident that the United States will not act towards Syria without a mandate by the Security Council, which in turn will not approve a change of the regime.
"I haven't heard any serious talks or official statements issued by the US administration about its intention to use force against Syria," Lavrov said.
He gainsaid western statements, whether by the spokesperson of the US State Department Victoria Nuland or by France, about ongoing talks with Moscow on the stepping-down of President Bashar Assad and the political developments afterwards.
"If this was really said, then it is all lies. Such talks did not and cannot take place because this completely contradicts with our position. I repeat that claims about us holding talks with anyone about Syria's fate after the departure of Assad are sheer lies. We do not oust regimes by means of approving unilateral acts in the Security Council or partaking in any political conspiracies," he said.
He reckoned, "the peace plan of UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, is the right way to realize the aspirations of the Syrians," calling all parties in Syria for self-restraint and engaging in dialogue without any foreign interference.
Source: al-Intiqad, translated and edited by moqawama.org