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French envoy: Russia is key player in Syria crisis

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Shaam News Network/REUTERS

(Read caption) Demonstrators take part in a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Dael, near Deraa, June 15. The poster (bottom) reads: "Iran, Russia are partners with the regime, in the killing of the Syrian people."

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With Russia sending weapons to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad – weapons that have helped the regime murder thousands of Syrian citizens – and with Russian marines arriving at the Syrian port city of Tartous, reportedly to evacuate Russian personnel there in the midst of a 17-month rebellion, it might seem like Russia is determined to play the spoiler to any kind of resolution of the Syrian crisis.  

But French Ambassador to the United States Francois Delattre, during a visit to the Christian Science Monitor in Boston, suggests that Russia may be more flexible and realistic behind the diplomatic stage than it at first seems to be. Russia's influence and reputation have suffered among other Arab nations – the majority of the Arab League supports UN intervention in Syria – and it is “beginning to understand that Assad is part of the problem, and not the solution, which is good,” says Ambassador Delattre.

While former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan attempts to pull together a peaceful end to the hostilities and a transition of President Assad out of power, France will continue to support what it views as “Plan A.” But France and several other nations, including Russia, are aware that armed intervention – or “Plan B” – may end up becoming the only remaining option, Mr. Delattre says.

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