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Hollande rules out French cooperation with Assad against Islamic State

media French President François Hollande Reuters/Alain Jocard/Pool

French President François Hollande on Thursday gave an emphatic no to Syria’s offer to work with the West in the fight against the Islamic State, previously known as Isis.

Speaking at an annual meeting of French ambassadors, Hollande accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being an objective ally of the fundamentalist armed group that has seized control of parts of Syria and Iraq.

"A broad alliance is necessary but let's be clear Bashar al-Assad cannot be a partner in the fight against terrorism, he is the de-facto ally of jihadists," he said in response to Syria’s offer on Monday to work with foreign countries, including the US, against the Islamic State.

Hollande repeated his proposal to hold an international conference in Paris "to organise the coordination of international action against the Islamic State on humanitarian, security and military fronts".

Hollande also commented on other international concerns for France:

  • Russia-Ukraine: “If it turns out that Russian soldiers are present on Ukrainian soil, that would be intolerable and unacceptable,” he said as Kiev claimed that Russian troops had taken control of the town of Novoazovsk.
  • Libya: "France asks the United Nations [...] to organise exceptional support for Libyan authorities to restore their state," he said, in a week in which Islamist militias seized control of Tripoli airport in their fight against the elected government. "If we do nothing... terrorism will spread to the whole region."
  • Latin America: Hollande will visit Brazil and Peru next year in a further effort to boost economic ties in South America.
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