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    People walk past a billboard depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Saadallah al-Jabri Square, in the government controlled area of Aleppo, Syria December 17, 2016

    Macron Explains Why France No Longer Insists on Assad's Removal From Power

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    Paris no longer insists on the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

    PARIS (Sputnik) — The French leader added that "the departure of Assad is no longer a necessary condition for France."

    "We have changed the French doctrine with regard to Syria, our fundamental task now is to eradicate terrorist groups, no matter what they are," Macron said at a joint news conference with US President Donald Trump in Paris.

    The contact group proposed by France and the United States, which will outline a 'roadmap' for the future of Syria after the conflict, must include permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as a Damascus representative, Macron added.

    "We share the desire to include permanent members of the UN Security Council and interested players from the region in the contact group. And, obviously, [Syrian President] Bashar Assad's representative will be involved in these negotiations, which will allow us to create a 'roadmap' for the post-war future [of Syria]."

    The Western countries and Moscow have disagreements on many issues, but in current circumstances it is necessary to work together to resolve the pressing issues on the international agenda, Macron said.

    "We have a lot of disagreements with Russia, but in the current situation, especially in the Middle East, it is necessary to work together and exchange information to find political solutions. Therefore, relations with Russia are important."

    While Moscow has repeatedly stressed that the Syrian people should decide the fate of their leadership, the US and many of its EU and Middle Eastern allies have been calling for Assad's removal from power.

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    Emmanuel Macron, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, United States, France
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