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.
As Carlo Ancelotti paid fulsome tribute to the retiring David Beckham the Paris Saint Germain manager revealed an announcement on his own future may be imminent. READ () »
France's disgraced former budget minister, forced out of office over a tax fraud scandal, will not seek re-election to his former parliamentary seat, a newspaper reported Sunday. READ () »
Spain's world championship leader Marc Marquez will start on pole in Sunday's French MotoGP on the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans after coming out on top in Saturday's qualifying. READ () »
A man was arrested on Friday after causing a scare at the Cannes Film Festival, where he attacked a TV studio with a gun loaded with blanks and a dummy grenade, police and witnesses said. READ () »
French actor and newly-minted Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu on Saturday compared President Vladimir Putin to the late Pope John Paul II and said the ex-KGB agent is what Russia needs as a leader. READ () »
France became the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage Saturday after President Francois Hollande signed the measure into law following months of bitter political debate. READ () »
Struggling French oyster farmers, whose haul has diminished in recent years, are set to receive some much needed help from their Swedish counterparts, by importing oyster spats from Sweden for the first time. READ () »
France's highest court the Constitutional Council cleared the divisive gay marriage bill on Friday, paving the way for same sex unions to become legal. Francois Hollande said he would sign the bill into law as soon as Saturday. READ () »
While many in the world of football raised a glass to David Beckham when he announced his retirement on Thursday, elements in the French media as well as PSG fans in Paris could not hide the fact they feel a little cheated by his minimal contribution on the pitch. READ () »
Thieves have stolen Chopard jewellery worth $1 million at Cannes Film Festival, French police reported on Friday. The jewellery was due to be loaned to film stars over the coming days. READ () »