French President Francois Hollande insisted Monday that there can be no political solution for Syria unless President Bashar al-Assad steps down from power.
There “cannot be a political solution without the departure of Bashar al-Assad,” Hollande told the new UN peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in a meeting, according to a statement issued by the Elysee.
Hollande reiterated France’s “commitment to a Syria that is free, democratic and respectful of the rights of each of its communities” and assured Brahimi of France’s support for his mission.
The new envoy meanwhile pointed out that France is an “important country on everything that is happening around Syria,” noting that it currently holds the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council.
Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat troubleshooter, was named on Friday to take over from Kofi Annan who quit because of the lack of international support for his peace efforts.
Brahimi, who has said he is not confident of being able to restore peace, warned Sunday that it was now a matter of ending rather than avoiding a civil war in Syria after 17 months of bloodshed.
Syria’s popular uprising has spiralled into an armed conflict with some 23,000 deaths since March last year, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The UN puts the death toll at 17,000.