Published: 16 Feb 2013 10:19 GMT+01:00 | Print version
Updated: 16 Feb 2013 11:19 GMT+01:00
France's defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has called for urgent action towards a transfer of power in civil-war torn Syria that excludes President Bashar al-Assad.
"Given the enormous price paid already by the Syrian people... it is more urgent than ever to act to overcome differences in favour of a political transition," Le Drian told a security forum in the United Arab Emirates.
He said the change should be "a transition in which president Assad would no longer keep his place".
Le Drian spoke of a "tragedy" and accused Assad and his family "of clinging to power by multiplying the daily massacres and atrocities".
The minister's remarks came after the umbrella opposition National Council on Friday refused to accept Assad in any talks on ending Syria's 23-month conflict, as part of a "framework" it has drawn up for a political solution.
China and Russia have blocked three resolutions at the UN Security Council that would have threatened sanctions against the Assad regime over its brutal crackdown on democracy protests that erupted in March 2011.
The crackdown triggered an armed uprising, and the United Nations says the conflict has killed nearly 70,000 people.
On Iran, the French minister stressed the need to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, and said sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic were aimed at pushing it into serious negotiations.
"The progress of Iran's programme only adds to our concerns" about the unacceptable "possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear arms," he told the Gulf Defence Conference held in Abu Dhabi.
Le Drian said it was the responsibility of countries to ensure that Iran's suspect nuclear programme "fails" in order to guarantee security for all.
The sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union "appear to me to be the way to bring Iran to negotiate seriously," he added.
The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that Western sanctions on Iran had slashed its oil export revenues by $40 billion in 2012 as production hit a three-decade low.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
Liberté, egalité, fraternité, the famous motto of the French Republic must be displayed at all French schools and the Tricolour flag must also be on show outside all establishments, the French Senate ruled on Wednesday. READ () »
French prosecutors investigating corruption are set to decide on Thursday whether to charge IMF chief Christine Lagarde over her handling of a row that resulted in a €400 million payout being paid to disgraced businessman Bernard Tapie. READ () »
The former US President Bill Clinton had a message for the French public on a visit to Paris this week - “don’t be too pessimistic”. READ () »
France is to call for the military arm of Hezbollah to be added to an EU terror blacklist due to its backing of the Syrian regime, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on Wednesday. READ () »
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was evacuated for the second time in two days on Wednesday when a topless feminist staged a mock suicide in front of the altar the day after far-right historian Dominique Venner shot himself in the church. READ () »
France is to shell out millions of euros on increasing security around its embassies in Africa and the Middle East, the French foreign office announced on Wednesday. The move comes after a car bomb attack on its Libyan embassy last month. READ () »
There is no egalité when it comes to France’s ruling class, which is dominated by an elite clique where a ‘jobs for the boys’ culture prevails, argues British author Peter Gumbel in his new book. Here he tells The Local how this elitism is holding France back. READ () »
Boos rang out at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday for a blood-spattered revenge tale starring Ryan Gosling as a US fugitive running a Bangkok drugs racket and Kristin Scott Thomas as a cross between "Lady Macbeth and Donatella Versace." READ () »
The fight by French workers against Britain-based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal has inspired a new online game in which strikers can attack police. The game is called "Kill Mittal", despite its creators insisting it is not designed to incite violence. READ () »
French police fear a gang of robbers is specifically targeting wealthy women in Paris after the second victim in a matter of weeks was kidnapped and forced to hand over tens of thousands of euros worth of valuables. READ () »