PARIS, June 2 -- As Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday tookhis first new-term's visit to the Elysee Palace, talks betweenRussian and French leaders points to different directions: callingfor more bilateral cooperations between their two countries buttaking individual stands on tackling the Syria crisis. In their first meeting in Paris, the re-elected Russian presidentsaid he had discussed with his counterpart, France's newlyswearing-in President Francois Hollande, about bilateral andbroadly international issues focusing on deepening the twocountries' relationship and find solutions for Syrian conflict. Observers believe that Putin's visit to France has gained resultsin some aspects as the Russian and French heads of state hadachieved greater consensus in the field of trade and economiccooperation. However, Russia was still dissatisfied with the practices exercised by thewestern countries over security issues, especially on Syria. Thedivision between Russia and France could be seen in two leaders'speeches at the joint press conference. |
SEEKING TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC AND TRADE COOPERATION Sworn in once again as the Russian president, Putin fixed his firststate visit to the western country on Germany and France anddecided to attend the Russia-European Union (EU) summit held in St.Petersburg, all indicating that he attaches great importance to thedevelopment of bilateral relationships with France and Germany, thetwo European economic power houses, and with Europe at large, onthe bases of economic and trade cooperation. After talking with the French president, Putin spoke to reportersat the joint press conference with Hollande, citing the huge gap oftrade volumes between Russia and Germany as well as France, hepointed out there is yet great potential for the furthercooperation between Russia and France. "Beside emphasizing on the importance of economic relations, thereare other fields we can cooperate, " he said, given the areasranging from nuclear, energy to building machinery, setting upjoint-ventures and aircraft production. The two leaders vowed tocontinually strengthen cooperation in various fields. DIVERGENCE IN FINDING SOLUTION FOR SYRIA CRISIS Although looking to a cooperative bilateral relation, differencesshowed up vividly between Putin and Hollande over Syria issue, ahigh-focusing concern in the world, on which Russia and Germany hadreached certain consensus when Putin was visiting Berlin andmeeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the sameday.
At the joint press conference in Berlin, the two leadersexpressed their preference of a political solution for the Syriacrisis, as international pressure mounted on the Middle-Eastcountry. When coming to France, Putin stuck to his position in Berlin,standing firm against growing pressure over Moscow's position onSyria. He insisted supporting the UN-Arab League Annan's jointenvoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan on Syria. "Mr. Annan is a man of great experience and an honest man, and wemust do everything we can to make sure his mission is successful.
Ibelieve it is counterproductive to say his mission is a failure inadvance," Putin said. Putin admitted the possibility of the breakout of a civil war inthe Middle-East country but rejected outside military interventionin the deadly strife in Syria. He declared that Russia will nottake side in the conflict. "The most important thing we need to do is to prevent the situationfrom developing under the worst scenario and not let a civil wartake place," he said, noting that consultation and more efforts areneeded "to solve, via political means, the problems we faced." The Russian president warned that imposing sanctions on the Syrianregime must be debated within the framework of the United NationsSecurity Council. "We propose to act in an accurate, balanced manner..
in Syria," hesuggested, expecting all parties involving in the conflict in Syriato sit down on the negotiation table, as he said, it is necessaryto "reconcile all the parties to the conflict." Putin also hit back at suggestions Moscow was providing arms foruse in the internal conflict. France's President Hollande also agreed there is the necessity offull implementation of UN resolution and Kofi Annan's plan, butrefused to rule out military intervention in solving crisis inSyria. Recognizing "the risk of destabilization, the risks of civil war"in Syria, the French President insisted that Syrian PresidentBashar al-Assad's departure was a "prerequisite for a politicaltransition" in Syria. French daily Le Figaro underlines what it described as a "tough"dialogue and the discord on Syria that marked the first meetingbetween the French and Russian leaders.
The paper says French President Hollande "has failed to convincehis Russian counterpart about the necessity of military actionagainst the regime in Damascus...." France has played an important role among western countries totackle the Syria conflict between rebels and the Syrian government. The country has been taking tough actions in a move to increasepressure on Syria after last Friday's mass killing in Syria'scentral village of Houla where over 100 people were reportedlykilled. Opposition groups said the tragedy was a result of artillery firefrom government forces, while Syrian authorities blamed terroristand extremist groups for the killings. On Tuesday, joined by other major European partner countries,France announced to expel Syrian diplomats as part of France's"pressure tactics" against Syria.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for anunbiased probe into the latest Houla carnage and urged "allparties" involved in the Syria conflict to stop violenceimmediately and prevent any similar tragedy in the future.
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