Russian President on Tuesday cancelled his upcoming visit to France after his French counterpart Francois Hollande said he would only hold talks on the Syrian civil war, Reuters reported. The decision to cancel the visit, which was scheduled to take place next week, was confirmed by the Kremlin, even though it said Putin was ready to come to Paris at Hollande’s convenience.
Hollande said he would not accompany Putin “to any ceremonies” but was “ready to continue” the dialogue between the two countries on the Syria crisis. “The Russian veto of the French resolution at the United Nations Security Council has prevented the cessation of bombings,” Hollande said. He added he was ready to meet with the Russian president if the two could “advance peace, end the bombings and announce a truce”. The resolution – vetoed on Saturday – had been introduced by France and Spain, according to CNN, and proposed ending airstrikes in Syria’s Aleppo, and allowing aid into the city.
Hollande’s remarks and Putin’s subsequent cancellation came after the United States on October 3 suspended talks with Russia on the Syrian conflict, accusing it of bombing civilian areas in the country. Fighting between forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups intensified after a September 9 ceasefire broke down when an aid convoy was bombed in Aleppo.
More than 3,00,000 people have died in the six-year-long civil war and nearly half the country’s population forced to flee since it began. While the United States supports rebel groups, Moscow is seen as a key Assad ally.