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Revived U.S. role in Syria offers opportunity for G7 - French diplomat
May 26, 2017 / 5:42 PM / 5 months ago

Revived U.S. role in Syria offers opportunity for G7 - French diplomat

TAORMINA, Italy (Reuters) - The United States’ reengagement in Syria’s war gives impetus to the Group of Seven nations to find a political solution to a conflict going on now for over six years, a senior French diplomat said on Friday.

France, a NATO ally and key backer of the Syrian opposition, has sharply criticised U.S. policy in Syria since the Obama administration pulled back from launching strikes against President Bashar al-Assad in 2013 after a chemical attack that killed hundreds of people.

Since the arrival of President Donald Trump, all eyes have been on what the U.S. approach to ending the war in Syria might be beyond the fight to crush Islamist militants.

New French President Emmanuel Macron has also made eradicating Islamic State, which controls large swathes of Syria, one of his top foreign policy priorities.

He has yet to outline a clear policy on how he sees a political transition in Syria, but brought up the subject on Friday with his U.S., British, Japanese, Italian, German and Canadian counterparts at the G7 summit in Sicily.

“There is something new because we have the reengagement of the United States in Syria and four of the leaders in this format are here for the first time, so it’s important to harmonise the positions of these countries and get some collective momentum,” said the French diplomat, speaking on background.

U.N.-mediated talks have yielded little concrete result. The United Nations ended its latest round of peace talks last week, saying there had been “incremental progress” and that it planned to reconvene negotiations in June.

But Syria’s warring sides still showed no sign of wanting to be in the same room, let alone on the same page in terms of negotiating Syria’s political future.

“There is a commitment that within this new (political) context, there are new opportunities,” said the diplomat.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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