June 27, 2017 / 4:39 PM / in a month

Macron, Trump agree to work together if new Syria chemical attack - Elysee

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PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone call on Tuesday that they would work together to find a common response in case of a new chemical attack in Syria, the French presidency said in a statement.

The United States had earlier warned Syria's leadership against staging a chemical weapons attack after Washington detected what appeared to be active preparations at a Syrian airfield used for such an attack in April, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

"They discussed the Syria dossier and the necessity to work on a common response in case of a chemical attack," Macron's office said in a statement.

It gave no further details.

The U.S. had recently seen activity at Shayrat airfield, the same base targeted by a unilateral U.S. cruise missile strike on April 6, officials said.

The French leader has said that Paris could launch unilateral air strikes against targets in Syria if a new chemical attack took place.

French diplomats and defence officials said that there had been no specific information passed on to Paris on the new activity.

"It seems to be a message to the Russians," said one official. "That suits us and fits into Macron's red line on the use of chemical weapons."

The French presidency declined to comment.

Macron appears to be broadly aligning his foreign policy with the U.S. priorities of tackling terrorism while seeking better ties with Russia, which he considers a long-term partner rather than a direct threat to Europe.

Macron also invited Trump to attend the July 14 Bastille Day celebrations in Paris which will this year commemorate 100 years since the United States entered World War One.

Reporting by Marine Pennetier and John Irish; editing by Michel Rose

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