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France blames Damascus for Vienna peace talks' failure

PARIS, Jan 29 (KUNA) -- France on Monday laid the blame squarely at the feet of the Damascus regime for the failure of the Syrian peace talks in Vienna last week, the Foreign Ministry said.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had said ahead of the opening of the latest round of negotiations that the Vienna meeting was "the last hope" to find a political solution in the Syrian conflict that has left at least 400,000 dead since March 2011.
"We deplore the fact that the (Bashar Al) Assad regime has once again refused to engage in the inter-Syrian negotiations that are part of the Geneva process. It is responsible for the deadlock in the peace talks. It is imperative that the countries supporting that regime exert the necessary pressure to end this obstructionist strategy," Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexandre Giorgini said in a briefing.
The official added that, for France, peace talks "under the auspices of the UN remain the only legitimate framework for resolving the Syrian crisis" and he stressed this must be done in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique.
France has not opposed other initiatives like the Astana process and the forthcoming meeting of the "Syrian Congress" in Russia in the coming days, but has insisted that these efforts must be an addition to the UN process being overseen by Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura.
"All other initiatives, including the Sochi meeting organized by Russia, must support the UN process and be part of that framework," Giorgini noted.
He also pointed out that the Syrian opposition group is not taking part in the Sochi talks and he said France would not participate in that meeting, either. (end) jk.sd