BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – French President Emmanuel Macron called Assad’s comments about France supporting terrorism in Syria ‘unacceptable’, during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris on Tuesday.

“If someone has been fighting and can win the war against Daesh by the end of February, it’s the international coalition”, Macron said.

“These Syrians have one enemy, and he is called Bashar Al-Assad”, he added.

Stoltenberg asserted that “France is also playing a key role in the fight against terrorism.”

“We are now looking into how we can step-up our efforts to train Iraqi forces to help them stabilise their own country” he added.

The French President received NATO’s secretary general at the Elysee Palace, where they discussed security and EU-NATO cooperation.

Transcript:

M/S French President Emmanuel Macron receiving NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at Elysee Palace in Paris

SOT, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO general secretary: “I strongly believe that one of the best weapons we have in the fight against terrorism is to train local forces, is to build local capacity, to enable locale forces to stabilise their own countries. And that is exactly what NATO is doing in Afghanistan, in Iraq and also what we have done before in the Balkans, and as a member of the global coalition to defeat ISIS or Daesh. We are now looking into how we can step-up our efforts to train Iraqi forces to help them stabilise their own country.” *JUMP CUT AT SOURCE*

SOT, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO general secretary: “France is also playing a key role in the fight against terrorism you have a significant presence in Sahel and you play a very important role in the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria.” *JUMP CUT AT SOURCE*

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SOT, Jens Stoltenberg, NATO general secretary: “As you mentioned, we also addressed NATO-EU cooperation. And I welcome the fact that we were able to lift NATO-EU cooperation up to a new level and that we are working together on many issues, including hybrid, cyber, fighting terrorism and also military mobility.”

SOT, Emmanuel Macron, President of France (French): “I do not personally believe that we can build a lasting peace and find a political solution without Syria and the Syrians. I also don’t believe Syria is just (President) Bashar al-Assad. On the military front we have a priority – the war against Daesh (Islamic State). That’s why his (Assad’s) comments were unacceptable. If someone has been fighting and can win the war against Daesh by the end of February, it’s the international coalition. All others have been ambiguous. All others have had (other) priorities, which was targeting political opposition and not the terrorists. We were coherent from the start, we have one enemy, that enemy is Daesh.The Syrian people have an enemy, there are millions of Syrians way from Syria in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, across Europe, in Canada, the United States, these Syrians have one enemy, and he is called Bashar Assad.”

SOT, Emmanuel Macron, President of France (French): “And if we want to build a political peace process that will lead to stability in Syria, we must gather all the different sides around a table and build a transition that will not lead to a status quo because that would mean millions of political opponents who fear for their lives will live outside the (Syria’s) borders.”

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SOT, Emmanuel Macron, President of France (French): “That is why what we want to work on with our partners – and in an inclusive manner – is a process that will include representatives of Bashar al-Assad because he is today at the helm of the country.”

M/S Macron and Stoltenberg leaving press conference

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