Minister outlines talks on political solution for Syria
Syria – Meeting of the Small Group on Syria – Statement to the press by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Paris, 26 April 2018
Q. – What is the aim of this evening’s Small Group meeting?
THE MINISTER – The French President announced after the strikes on chemical facilities in Syria that he was going to regain the initiative politically, in humanitarian terms and in the fight against chemical weapons, in order to find pathways enabling a more pacified Syria to be restored. An initiative has already been taken at the United Nations, when we submitted a resolution enabling progress to be made towards resolving the crisis.
We’ve taken humanitarian initiatives, because we decided to allocated €50 million to help displaced people and refugees, but also to help with the tragic situation prevailing in some parts of Syria.
We’ve taken initiatives in the chemical weapons sphere, because we proposed regulations within the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons enabling any return to chemical weapons use to be prevented.
And now [there’s] a political initiative, namely the meeting here of the “like-minded” countries – Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Britain, the United States and France. During a somewhat informal meeting, we’re going to try and work on concrete solutions enabling us to make progress along the path of peace in Syria, take initiatives and have proposals to make to the other countries in the region, which we must work with in order to get out of these difficulties.
Q. – How can progress be made, in the knowledge that the strikes – according to the Russians – have complicated the search for a political solution? The Russians themselves seem to be saying they don’t have very much room for manoeuvre in the face of Bashar al-Assad. From your point of view, how can the process be put back on track?
THE MINISTER – We’re going to work on it this evening. It’s imperative to propose solutions to allow a peaceful road map in Syria. That’s the French President’s wish, and it’s the purpose of this meeting, which will provide us with an opportunity to discuss how to take action, cooperate and make proposals.
Q. – Is the idea still to go back to the negotiating table in Geneva under the framework set out in a previous UN resolution? Or is the goal, as the President sketched out in Washington, to integrate these political negotiations into broader negotiations on regional stability, which would therefore, of course, involve Iran?
THE MINISTER – The idea, first of all, is to establish a path of work for Syria, to make proposals encompassing the constitution and the implementation of an electoral process, but first of all the implementation of a ceasefire. The countries meeting this evening are going to try and determine which path can enable this to be achieved, and how we can have discussions with the other countries to reach a peaceful solution. Then there’s the framework agreement the President is proposing, which is more comprehensive and concerns other aspects of the situation in the region. But this evening, our work is Syria.
Q. – Will the Iranian nuclear programme also be discussed this evening?
THE MINISTER – This evening our work is Syria./.