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Russia must be convinced to 'finish with Assad': Hollande

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Russia must be convinced to finish with Assad: Hollande
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Paris: French President Francois Hollande said that more efforts were needed to convince Moscow to drop its support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

"We must have a frank discussion with Russia to convince it that it is in its interests, in the interests of the region, in the interests of peace, to finish with Bashar al-Assad," Hollande told a press conference yesterday.

Hollande said France was "involved" in efforts by Washington and Moscow to push for direct talks between the opposition and Assad's regime.

Resolving the conflict "cannot simply be dealt with by two countries, it must be done by all of the international community," he added.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced a joint initiative, dubbed Geneva II, to organise a peace conference end the Syrian conflict.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy on the Syria conflict. The two men discussed the Geneva II initiative, according to a diplomatic source.

France "will continue its close dialogue with all partners so this conference opens the way to a viable political solution," said a foreign ministry statement.

Diplomatic sources say Brahimi had been set to resign in frustration at the failure of the major powers to unite around a negotiated end the conflict, until Russia and the United States announced their joint initiative.

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