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Syria deal must be backed by force, Hollande tells Amanpour

Syria deal must be backed by force, Hollande tells Amanpour
September 24th, 2013
02:49 PM ET

Amanpour presses Hollande on Iran, Syria

Hollande on Kenya, Mali and Kenya

By Mick Krever, CNN

Coercive force must be on the table in any deal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons, French President Francois Hollande told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Tuesday in New York.

A resolution that “would not consider any breach” by the Assad regime in destroying its chemical weapons would have “no scope” and “no punch,” he said.

“So France is looking for a resolution that must be binding, enforceable, so that in case of a breach we can go back to the Security Council and allow it to take sanctions,” President Hollande told Amanpour through an interpreter.

President Hollande has given France an unusually active and interventionist role on the world stage.

It was largely France and the United Kingdom that led the charge to intervene in Libya, and at the beginning of this year French troops entered Mali to stop Islamist rebels from taking over that country.

“The role of France is not to apply its ambitions all around the world,” President Hollande said. “We have no intent of influencing or defending commercial or trade interests. What we are fighting for are rules, principles, values.”

Therefore, he told Amanpour, “it is urgent that we act” on Syria.

“Of course it is about fighting the use of chemical weapons, as will be done at the Security Council anytime soon,” he said. “But it is also about finding a political solution.”

Skeptics of the Russian-led deal for Syria to rid itself of chemical weapons say that it is a tacit endorsement of President Assad’s continued rule. President Hollande dismissed this.

“It cannot be an opportunity for Bashar al-Assad to stay as the leader of Syria,” he told Amanpour.

Diplomats are hoping to advance a wider political solution to the fighting in Syria at a second round of talks in Geneva, dubbed in diplo-speak as ‘Geneva II.’

The new, more moderate president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has expressed interest in helping to broker a deal in Syria.

Most experienced diplomats agree that no tenable solution is possible in Syria without the participation of Iran, which has wide-ranging influence.

“Iran can attend the conference if that country agrees to the necessity of finding a political solution,” President Hollande said.

The purpose of the conference, he said, is to build a framework under which Bashar al-Assad steps down and a “Syria of tomorrow” is built that represents all political groups.

“If Iran agrees upon that goal, Iran is welcome,” President Hollande told Amanpour. “On the other hand, if Iran wants at any price to keep the regime in place, I cannot imagine how this country could attend Geneva II.”

Iranian President Rouhani has captured the world attention, as he advanced one overture to the West after another, from releasing political prisoners, to wishing Jews a happy Rosh Hashanah, to indeed offering to help broker peace in Syria.

Western officials have been approaching the new leader with cautious optimism, encouraged by his words but anxious for actions on what to them is the key issue: Iran’s nuclear program.

President Hollande was set to meet with President Rouhani when he spoke with Amanpour Tuesday morning. (Amanpour will interview President Rouhani Wednesday evening.)

“When I see him today,” President Hollande said, “I will be telling him a simple thing: If Iran is willing to negotiate to give up its military nuclear program, and get a civilian nuclear program to be accepted, then there is a possible solution.”

“On the other hand,” he continued, “if the deadlock remains, what will happen? More and more sanctions, more burdens for the Iranian economy, and at some point the threat of an operation.”

Despite Iran and Syria being the overriding issues at the U.N. General Assembly, the brazen terrorist attack by al-Shabaab on a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya has pulled the world’s attention.

Two French nationals were killed in that attack, President Hollande said, adding that “we stand by all the victims.”

“We have to keep fighting terrorism,” he said. Referring to France’s intervention in Mali, he said, “We showed there that when we have a coordinated action, a resolute action, when we have the support of the African forces for the Sahel, we can succeed.”

He said that he believed al-Shabaab was “on the decline” in Somalia, at it was precisely for this reason that they attacked Kenya, which has “been active” in fighting the terrorist group in Somalia.

Finally, in the midst of huge international stories, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was elected to another term.

“France and Germany have a special responsibility in Europe,” President Hollande said. “Even though we have some different political backgrounds, we certainly want Europe to be at the forefront.”

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Anita Vanaman

    Christiane...When you interview the Iranian President, PLEASE BRING UP SAEED ABEDINI WHO IS IMPRISIONED IN IRAN FOR HIS CHRISTIAN FAITH! Saeed's human rights are belng violated. As him to release Saeed!

    September 24, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Reply
  2. kevin

    why is the French President hell bent on getting force to Syria? I still dont understand their policies... Apply different Yardstick to different countries... See what's happening in Kenya... How effective is the French involvement in Somalia... I can see the snowballing effects in other countries... I am sure his efforts would not go waste if more focus is given to EU stability.

    September 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Reply
    • IndianSummer

      Can't think of logical reasons but maybe (1) France has a history of occupying Syria. (2) Maybe thrilled to exhibit power like Obama. It's awful to think that somebody could get drunk with their power, but we see that it does. Sad. (3) want to show solidarity with Obama.

      September 24, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  3. chuan

    French president is the problem to solve the problem of Syria chemical weapons.
    French president is war hunger.

    September 24, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Reply
  4. IndianSummer

    When President Obama talks about Syria and President Assad, you can just see anger/hatred in Mr. Obama's voice, gestures and words. Where is it coming from? Sometimes he sounds like somebody who wants to settle a score. It seems the chemical weapons is just the issue to force Assad to the negotiating table. But even after Assad agreed, Obama seems to want the head of Assad. It happened to Khadaffi after he surrendered his weapons. Why?

    September 25, 2013 at 12:04 am | Reply
    • that sherman woman

      Why is because you have any person, usually male and they have a different idea or set of ideas and people are following them... and these other, dare I call them "our" leaders are in lock step with someone somewhere... indeed the question continues to be...♪ Who are do do do do ♪

      September 25, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
  5. A E

    Come now, the French are highly interventionist, they just know a thing or two about subtlety and not throwing your entire army around every time you want to get something done. This would be an exception.

    September 25, 2013 at 12:51 am | Reply
  6. COM

    French President has said France cannot intervene without our US allies. He brags not because he can withstand Syria by going it alone but because he believes Obama is the one to do the job with France as an attache.

    September 25, 2013 at 7:10 am | Reply
  7. Buddy

    Amazingly enough flashback 11 years ago. Bush asking for strikes on a COUNTRY that provokes people, that would taunt anyone and had no issue blocking people from entering their country to check for WMD. France was having mental breakdowns trying to press upon us that DIALOGUE WAS THE flash forward we have super liberal in power in france and one in America. THEY WANT WAR at every turn in Syria. Its so funny how it doesn't matter what the case is the goal is to do the opposite of the other side. Politics have been reduced to 5 year old I know you are but what am I arguments.

    September 25, 2013 at 9:15 am | Reply
  8. glenn stockley

    why is this idiot so anxious to wage war in North Africa....didn't anyone tell tell the froggies that the natives have guns now and can shoot back......might want to bring their vicy white flag......

    September 25, 2013 at 10:29 am | Reply
    • that sherman woman

      Also France makes weapons. Lots of them. We the people stemmed the tide, but don't look away dixie land, cause these people, these war people, I don't think they sleep.

      September 25, 2013 at 10:36 am | Reply
    • Froogy

      As far as I know, Syria isn't in North Africa...
      Funny to read that now we are war hungers or interventionists when years ago we just were coward monkeys when refusing to fight to Irak (Bush WMD joke).

      September 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Reply
  9. Samarendra Biswas

    The main point is to destroy chemical weapon,whether President Assad comes forward & offer some quick fixed solution or force is required to destroy early.Solution lies in destroying chemical weapon at the earliest

    September 25, 2013 at 10:43 am | Reply
  10. Soph27

    the difference between now and Irak 11 years ago is that the WMD was a Bush lie and the French knew it. Now WMD are used for real and you can't see the difference. Do the Republicans and the Fox crowd have problems to differenciate facts from fiction ?

    September 25, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply
    • Fursax

      I couldn't agree more...when we lied about WMD 11 years ago French Bashing was the only rule.
      Now that the truth comes around we're lying to ourselves...

      September 27, 2013 at 2:13 am | Reply
    • Cam

      Everybody knows that France didn't take part in the military action against Saddam Hussein because of its close ties with him and his regime . It was a question of interests not principals , which is quiet understandable.
      Now , the french despite their enormous domestic difficulties, are hell bent on removing the Syrian regime , i wonder what is behind this position? Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons for almost 10 years and France never said a thing and continued to supply him with weapons. So far there has been no evidence on Syrian army use of chemical weapons , so what is it really? What has France been promised as a reward?

      October 1, 2013 at 4:14 am | Reply
  11. Hiding in Plain Sight

    France has a problem with Assad and Syria, does it?
    Fine. Then THEY can deal with it.
    Don't bother US. Leave US out of it.

    September 27, 2013 at 7:54 am | Reply
  12. ben

    Seeing so stupid comments is just sad. Comments totally oblivious of The wreck and more than 100,000deaths he did to his country.
    The same stupid people wo wanted to wage a war 10years earlier in a country that had NO massive destruction weapons.

    October 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm | Reply
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