MOSCOW (Sputnik) — France should clarify a number of issues with Russia, which are necessary for holding a bilateral dialogue, including the issue of Moscow's support to the Syrian government, French presidential hopeful Alain Juppe said on Friday.
"I think we should tell [Russian President Vladimir] Putin that we do not agree on some points. In my view, the main problem is his wish to cooperate with [Syrian President] Bashar Assad as he is mainly responsible for the situation in Syria," Juppe told the BFMTV broadcaster.
According to Juppe, the creation of a global anti-terrorism coalition with the participation of Russia is necessary, though, France should take a more firm stance toward Russia.
Russia launched military operation against terrorist groups in Syria in September 2015, at Assad's request. Russian military aviation had carried out more than 9,000 sorties.
In March, Putin ordered the pullout of the bulk of the Russian contingent in Syria as the anti-terrorist campaign's objectives had broadly been completed. At the same time, Russia did not abandon its obligations to provide the Syrian government with weapons and military equipment, train military specialists. The Hmeymim air facility and a naval facility in the port of Tartus remain operational while Russia's S-400 and Pantsir air defense systems continue to be on duty in Syria to protect Russian servicemen in the war-torn country.
The West and several Middle Eastern countries back some opposition groups in Syria and are in favor of Assad's resignation.