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Envoy says France, U.S. agree time not right for talks with Syria

Envoy says France, U.S. agree time not right for talks with Syria

France agrees with the United States the conditions are not right for talks with Syria because of Damascus' continued interference in Lebanon, the French ambassador said.
Jean-David Levitte said in an interview published Tuesday in The Washington Times, "We share the frustration of the United States, and for the time being, we have decided not to maintain a high-level dialogue with Syria...There is not much difference between Washington and Paris."
The independent Iraq Study Group, among others, urged the Bush administration to hold talks with Syria and Iran to see if they could help improve the security situation in Iraq. Administration officials rejected the proposal.
Levitte, who took over the embassy in December 2002 at a time of strained relations with the U.S. just before the Iraq war began, said he is a "happy ambassador" because the two countries have similar positions on most issues.
"Today our relationship is on the right track," he said. "These are not only words. These are deeds."
Levitte declined to comment on the situation in Iraq, saying only France is urging Iraqi leaders to think about their children's future when making decisions.
He said France is advocating a "perspective" rather than a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. and other coalition forces from Iraq that would put enough pressure on the Baghdad government to start improving security.
Levitte said there would be a "lot of continuity in the key elements of our foreign policy" whoever wins presidential elections in April. A close race is expected between conservative Nicolas Sarkozy and socialist Segolene Royal, the first woman to run for France's presidency.
The European Union will remain "our first priority" followed by the trans-Atlantic relationship, Levitte said.
"Don't expect major changes," he said. "General (Charles) de Gaulle has a legacy that is still the inspiration for all leaders of the French republic, whatever their political party is."


Updated : 2021-10-18 00:21 GMT+08:00