French ambassador returns to Damascus
France's ambassador to Syria, Eric Chevallier, returned to Damascus late Thursday - more than two weeks after the Foreign Ministry recalled him "for consultations", citing the Syrian government's "worsening repression" of anti-regime protests.
AFP - French ambassador to Syria Eric Chevallier has returned to Damascus more than two weeks after being recalled in response to the Syrian government's crackdown on dissent, the embassy said on Friday.
"I can confirm that the ambassador of France returned to Damascus on Thursday night," a spokesman told AFP.
He declined to comment if the return was related to efforts to evacuate wounded French reporter Edith Bouvier, and the body of dead French photojournalist Remi Ochlik, from the besieged Homs area of Baba Amr.
"We do not comment on this issue," he said.
Ochlik and veteran US war reporter Marie Colvin were killed Wednesday when a rocket hit a makeshift media centre in the rebel-held district. Bouvier and British photographer Paul Conroy were wounded in the incident and asked to be evacuated.
On February 7, the French foreign ministry said it was recalling Chevallier for consultations, "faced with the worsening repression being carried out by the Damascus regime against its own population."
It was the second time France recalled its envoy.
Spokesman Bernard Valero said then that Paris was in discussions with partners in the European Union to "reinforce sanctions," referring to the EU's economic measures against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and major supporters.
Paris' decision to pull its envoy came after Italy, Britain and the United States also withdrew theirs.