France's Macron Says He Has Convinced Trump To Stay In Syria

POOL  Mehdi FEDOUACH

"I assure you, we have convinced him that it is necessary to stay for the long-term", he told his interviewers.

"Their chemical weapons production capacities have been destroyed", Macron told BFM television at the start of a two-hour interview marking nearly a year since the start of his presidency.

"We can not tolerate banalization of use of chemical weapons, which is an immediate danger to Syrian people and to our collective security", Macron insisted in a statement issued at dawn on Saturday, following commencement of attack in Syria by Supposed use of chlorine gas against Duma's civilian population.

Limiting the strikes to these specific targets was not necessarily Trump's initial plan, Macron said.

After a first phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that night, a series of painstaking daily meetings with defense and foreign affairs officials took place to check the authenticity of images and information coming from Syria.

Macron, speaking on French television BFM and online site Mediapart, said "we are preparing a political solution" for Syria, a day after France joined the United States and Britain in launching strikes. "We convinced him to remain", he said. "We also persuaded him that we needed to limit the strikes to chemical weapons [sites], after things got a little carried away over tweets", he said.

He stated: "Ten days ago, President Trump was saying the United States of America had a duty to disengage from Syria". Macron invited Trump to Bastille day celebrations past year and will travel to Washington on a state visit this month.

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In France, Macron is facing the worst labor unrest of his presidency so far, with strikes that halted two-thirds of French trains Saturday and weeks more of walkouts to come.

He said France now wanted to involve Western powers, Russian Federation and Turkey in a new diplomatic initiative to find a sustainable political solution in Syria.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said in London that the West had tried "every possible" diplomatic means to stop Assad from using chemical weapons. There had been no changes to his planned trip to Russian Federation next month, he said.

Macron had warmer words for Turkey.

But Macron again argued his first major military intervention as president was necessary to send a signal that the use of chemical weapons against civilians would not go unpunished.

Macron added that the strikes on Syria had been "perfectly carried out".

However, Mr Macron said that by joining forces with France and the United Kingdom for last Saturday's air strikes, the USA "fully realised that our responsibility went above and beyond the war against IS, and that it was a humanitarian responsibility as well on the ground".

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