(Adds French foreign minister, diplomat)
MOSCOW/PARIS, Oct 6 (Reuters) - France’s foreign minister said on Thursday his priority was to put an end to the “massacres” in Aleppo rather than focusing on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would visit Paris later this month.
Russian news agencies quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying ahead of his meeting with Jean-Marc Ayrault on Thursday that Putin would visit Paris on Oct. 19 to discuss the situation in Syria and Ukraine with his French counterpart Francois Hollande.
However, while Lavrov later said they had discussed this during their meeting, Ayrault sought to sow some doubt on the visit.
When asked by reporters to confirm Putin’s visit to the French capital, Ayrault said:
“The urgency today is the cessation of hostilities and to end the massacres in Aleppo,” he told reporters after a news conference with Lavrov.
A French diplomatic source added that the date had never been confirmed and that Paris wanted to see how things developed in Aleppo, but also in Ukraine where Moscow was “toughening its position.” (Reporting by Christian Lowe and John Irish; editing by Michel Rose)