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    French President Emmanuel Macron walks through the Galerie des Bustes (Busts Gallery) to access the Versailles Palace's hemicycle for a special congress gathering both houses of parliament (National Assembly and Senate), near Paris, France, July 3, 2017.

    Macron Acknowledges Need for Russia, China to Bring Peace to Syria - Ex-Diplomat

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    French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments at a press conference with President Donald Trump last week have launched a new era of Middle East policy-making with Russia and China’s playing major roles, ex-Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong told Sputnik.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On July 13, Macron told the conference with Trump that France did not require President Bashar Assad to step down as part of the process of building an inclusive and sustainable political solution in Syria.

    "I think that we are possibly in the early days of important changes regarding the West and Syria," Armstrong said on Monday.

    Armstrong said the recently-elected French leader’s comments marked a major policy change in Paris.

    "Hitherto Paris was one of the main centers of the ‘Assad must go’ cry. But Macron seems to have dropped the condition," he recalled.

    Macron’s further comments on the need to bring the "P5" – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — fully into the Syrian peace process marked a sharp departure from previous Western policies, Armstrong added.

    "The Western consensus used to be that the Syria question must be settled from outside. Settled by the Western powers, that is: not with Russian involvement, let alone Chinese and certainly never with the involvement of the Syrian government," he recalled.

    However, Macron had clearly abandoned that old consensus position in his press conference comments, Armstrong pointed out.

    "Moscow has insisted, over and over again, that important issues can be only settled with the involvement of all parties and, in particular, the UN. And, however short the UN may have fallen from its lofty intentions, it cannot be denied that there isn't anything any better," Armstrong claimed.

    Two decades of a US hyper-power making up the rules have led to zero results, he noted.

    "The stupidity and incompetence of the West's elites, their indifference to their own true interests, has been astonishing," Armstrong added.

    Macron's comments opened up a possibility of ending the six year conflict in Syria that had so far cost 600,000 lives, Armstrong observed.

    "Therefore, there is a shred of hope that at last some movement away from further disaster may be possible. Clearly, the only possible settlement for Syria has to involve all the players, not just Washington and its flunkies' notions of who they should be," he said.

    However, Macron was certain to face enormous opposition, especially in Washington for his constructive suggestion, Armstrong warned.

    Armstrong expressed the hope that Trump would prove sympathetic to Macron’s suggestion as he had campaigned in 2016 on abandoning the discredited US policy of nation-building across the Middle East.

    "Trump was elected partly on a promise to stop the wars and Macron appears to have a similar thought. The West's wars of the 21st century have been failures. Maybe something else will be tried," he said.

    Armstrong suggested that Syria, a country that at the beginning of the 21st century appeared peripheral to the interests of Europe and North America might now become a world-historical pivot to transform the global balance of power, giving such powers as Russia and China a much larger role.

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    Emmanuel Macron, China, Russia, France
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