Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

'We convinced him': Macron says he steered Trump on Syria strikes

'We convinced him': Macron says he steered Trump on Syria strikes

Mr Macron maintained that he "never said" either the United States or France would stay engaged long-term in Syria in a military sense - hours after saying in a live Sunday interview that he had managed to change Mr Trump's mind on withdrawing troops.

Appearing in a two-hour live broadcast on French television BFM and online investigative site Mediapart, the 40-year-old leader said the U.S., Britain and France had "full global legitimacy to intervene" in order to enforce worldwide humanitarian law.

Pointing to the overnight strike, another advisor to Macron said: "This is proof today that the political line he drew at the start of his mandate was meant to be respected".

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.

The United States, Britain and France said they only hit Syria's chemical weapons capabilities and the strikes were not aimed at toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or intervening in the civil war.

In his interview, Macron said the USA would stay put. "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.

American objectives in Syria have not altered, the White House said Sunday, reiterating that President Donald Trump wants United States troops home "as quickly as possible".

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France considers that global military operation constitutes a serious warning to Syria that it must open its way to a dialogued way.

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.

Despite soaring tensions with Russia, Macron stressed the need to "talk to everyone" in pursuing a Syrian settlement, saying his plans to visit Moscow in May remain unchanged. "They have not used chlorine themselves but they have methodically built the global community's inability to act through diplomatic channels to stop the use of chemical weapons", he said.

Macron had warmer words for Turkey.

He continued: "Their chemical weapons production capacities have been destroyed". The U.N. Security Council met to debate the strikes, but rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of the "aggression" by the three Western allies.

"All of our missiles reached their target", he said.

Asked if using military force would restore peace, Macron said that "France is the country that has been the most active in terms of diplomacy and humanitarian aid in recent months, and we came at a time when this strike was essential to give credibility to our community".

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