French president: Position on Syria 'in line' with US

By Hajer M'tiri

PARIS (AA) – President Emmanuel Macron on Monday clarified he "never said" either the U.S. or France would stay engaged militarily in Syria in the long term.

Macron's comments came after he was reporting as saying in a live interview Sunday that he convinced U.S. President Donald Trump to "stay in Syria long-term".

After Macron's comments on Sunday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: "The U.S. mission has not changed — the president has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible."

Speaking at a joint news conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday, Macron said the military presence of Paris and Washington in Syria "will end the day the war against ISIS [Daesh] is completed".

He added both French and U.S. positions were in line and the main and "only" aim in Syria was the "war against ISIS".

"I did not indicate any changes of position yesterday," he said.

However, Macron said by joining forces with France and the U.K. for last Saturday's airstrikes, the U.S. "fully realized that our responsibility went above and beyond the war against ISIS and that it was a humanitarian responsibility as well on the ground".

During a two-hour interview to French media outlets — RMC, BFMTV and Mediapart — on Sunday night to mark his first year in office, Macron said: "Ten days ago, Donald Trump said the United States had a vocation to disengage and we convinced him that we had to stay in the long term, we also convinced him to limit strikes to chemical facilities."

On Saturday, France in coordination with the U.S. and the U.K. conducted a series of military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad attacked Douma, Eastern Ghouta, with chemical weapons on April 7.

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