President Emmanuel Macron said in remarks published on Wednesday that he saw no legitimate successor to Syrian President Bashar Assad and that France no longer considered his departure a pre-condition to resolving the six-year conflict.
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"The new perspective that I have had on this subject is that I have not stated that Bashar Assad's departure is a pre-condition for everything because nobody has shown me a legitimate successor," Macron said in an interview to eight European newspapers.
He said Assad was an enemy of the Syrian people, but not of France and that Paris' priority was a total commitment to fighting terrorist groups and ensuring the country did not become a failed state.
His comments are in stark contrast to the previous French administration and echo Moscow's stance that there was no viable alternative to Assad.