Q - Mr. Le Drian explained that the aim of the contact group on Syria proposed by France would be to propose solutions to the Syrian belligerents and to exert pressure on them. The representatives of the P5 and countries in the region were supposed to exert such pressure in Geneva; how could this work better today?
Will this group still be under the auspices of the UN? What will special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s role be?
A - Jean-Yves Le Drian noted that a political solution in Syria had to include “the support of the United Nations, the permanent members of the Security Council, and the countries of the region.”
These efforts fall under UN Security Council resolution 2254, and our proposals are crafted in close cooperation with the UN secretary general’s special envoy and in support of his efforts.
Q - Russia considers that all of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons have been dismantled and removed from the country in keeping with the 2013 agreement, and denies the regime’s use of chemical weapons since then. Does this position enable you to cooperate effectively with Moscow?
A - For France, the use of chemical weapons is a red line. The President clearly said so.
Russia acknowledges that such weapons have been used in Syria, in particular sarin gas during the attack of April 4 on Khan Shaykhun. Our disagreements relate to who is responsible for such actions.
We would like to work with Russia on these issues within the appropriate international forums, particularly the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We – both Russia and France – have the same interest in protecting the chemical non-proliferation regime.