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French Reversal of Syria Policy Allows for Closer Cooperation
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French Reversal of Syria Policy Allows for Closer Cooperation

A former foreign minister said Tehran welcomes last month's announcement by France that it no longer sees the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a requirement for resolving the Syrian crisis, as the shift prepares the ground for closer Tehran-Paris cooperation on resolving the lingering conflict.

"I'm happy that French President Emmanuel Macron has adopted a more realistic understanding of regional crises. This fosters an environment more conducive to collaboration," Kamal Kharrazi also said in a speech at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, IRNA reported on Saturday.

Macron told the Guardian and several other European dailies on June 21 that France will drop its longstanding call for the Syrian president to go, because there is yet no "legitimate successor" and his removal could lead to further instability.

The remarks by France's newly-elected president marked a change of tack from the stance espoused by his predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, AFP reported at the time.

"My profound conviction is that we need a political and diplomatic roadmap," he said, without elaborating. "We won't solve the question only with military force. That is a collective error we have made."

France has been a staunch backer of militants since the conflict broke out in 2011, mirroring the policy of other western powers and some Middle East governments closely aligned with the West.

For years, they generously supplied arms and logistics to militants advancing in the hope of bringing down the Syrian government, a struggle that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced to create the worst manmade calamity in the 21st century.

However, the Syrian Army, assisted by Iran's advisory support and Russia's air power, has managed to turn the tide of war in Assad's favor, and the late 2016 retaking of Aleppo, the second biggest Syrian city, was the final nail in the coffin of regime change dreams in Syria.

 

***Momentous Anti-Terror Fight

The diplomat, who has an eight-year record of leading the Foreign Ministry and currently heads Iran's Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said Iran has had deep concerns over the adverse consequences of the Syrian conflict on regional security since its inception.

"Unfortunately, the French government did not adopt a fair and neutral policy after the conflict flared up in Syria. If we had successfully cooperated at that time, the situation in Syria would not be so saddening and France would not suffer from terrorist attacks," he said.

"One of the reasons why we rushed to the help of the Syrian government and the Iraqi government was the concern about the security of our borders."

Kharrazi said Iran's assistance to the anti-terror push in the region has proved helpful in also protecting the security of European countries.

"To understand how important Iran's reaction to terrorists was, you just need to ask yourself what could be in store for Europe's security if the [self-styled] Islamic State [terrorist group] had conquered Damascus and Baghdad," he said.

Kharrazi said Iran believes it is never too late to correct a mistake and it encourages an independent European policy regarding conflicts that pose a direct threat to its security.

"The Islamic Republic, as a powerful popular government, is keen to cooperate with France for the benefit of regional peace and stability," he said.

 

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