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France’s Hollande firm on Syria, hopeful on Iran

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-24

French President François Hollande told the United Nations Tuesday that despite a Russian-brokered deal for Damascus to hand over its chemical weapons, “coercive measures” must be taken if the regime failed to live up to its side of the agreement.

French President François Hollande strongly defended his country’s hardline stance against the Syrian regime Tuesday in a speech to the United Nations that criticised the international community for being “indecisive”.

The Syrian conflict, he said, was the “deadliest this century” and the Damascus regime’s use of chemical weapons – which France believes is beyond doubt – constitutes a crime that should and could have been dealt with more assertively.

In a thinly veiled criticism of UN Security Council members who vetoed military intervention against Syria, he said the international body’s strength and ability to respond to such a crisis had been undermined by international indecision.

Failure to find consensus, he said, “shows that we are without power – and it is peace that is the principal victim”.

‘Coercive measures’

Hollande added that if Syria does not abide by a Russian-brokered deal to hand over its chemical weapons to the international community for dismantlement, it should face “coercive measures” under Chapter VII of the UN charter.

Those responsible for chemical weapons attacks, he said, must be "held accountable in the justice system."

Hollande also warned that continuing inaction in Syria was likely to breed terrorism, citing France’s military intervention in Mali as justification for foreign military intervention.

Mali has regained territorial integrity and has been able to organise “an incontestable presidential election,” he said. “It is evidence of a great victory in Africa over the forces of terrorism.”

Olive branch to Iran

Turning to Iran, Hollande praised a thawing of relations with Tehran as “a glimmer of hope” for future peace, but he warned that Iran’s promises not to pursue a nuclear weapons programme “must be translated into concrete gestures.”

"France expects concrete gestures of Iran which will show that this country renounces its military nuclear program even if it clearly has the right to pursue its civilian programme," he said.

Hollande went on to stress that dialogue was the way forward while warning that he would stand firm on the issues of nuclear proliferation.

"The question at hand is to know if these words can translate into actions, especially on the nuclear issue," Hollande added. "But for the past 10 years talks haven't gone anywhere.”

Date created : 2013-09-24

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