Ayrault Says France May Meet Russia, Ukraine, Germany This Month

Leaders of France, Germany and Russia could still meet with President Petro Poroshenko in Berlin on Oct. 19 to discuss the Ukraine situation, though the French government also wants Russia to make progress on other issues such as Syria, French officials said.

The meeting is “possible but not confirmed,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said in an interview with Europe1 radio.

French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters there will be telephone conversations between the leaders Wednesday and Thursday to discuss whether to meet.

Putin called off a visit to Paris scheduled for Oct. 19 to inaugurate a Russian church because French President Francois Hollande would only meet with him to talk about Syria, where Russian warplanes are bombing Aleppo to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

War Crimes

It would have been “surreal” to accompany Putin to the ceremonies while the bombings continue, Ayrault said. Russia is bombing civilians, not terrorists, he added.

“We have asked them to stop bombing the population, to stop supporting the Assad regime, and to unite with us against the terrorists” of Islamic State, Ayrault said.

Ayrault reiterated that France supports war-crime investigations into the Aleppo bombings.

Asked if an assault on the Islamic State-held town of Mosul in Iraq was days or hours away, Ayrault said “yes, but I’m not going to give you the day or the hour.”

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