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Macron backtracks on Trump-Syria remarks

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French President Emmanuel Macron during Sunday's interview AFP/Fran├žois Guillot

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday tried to paper over apparent differences of interpretation over the US's strategy on Syria aftre claiming he had changed Donald Trump's mind about bringing troops home right away.


In a TV interview on Sunday, Macron appeared to claim he had steered Trump towards limiting Friday night's air strikes to alleged chemical weapons targets and persuaded him to stay engaged in Syria "for the long-term".

That prompted the White House to respond that it wanted US forces there "to come home as quickly as possible".

At a press conference on Monday, Macron insisted that both countries have the same goal, defeating the Islamic State (IS) armed group.

"The White House is right to recall that the military engagement is against Daesh [IS] and will finish the day that the war against Daesh has been completed," he said. "France has the same position. I suggested no change last night."

But he went on to say that the air strikes showed that Washington accepts that there are other tasks to be accomplished in Syria.

"I am right to say that the United States, because they decided to carry out this intervention, have realised that our responsibility goes beyond the fight against Daesh and that it was also a humanitarian responsibility on the ground and a long-term responsibility to build peace," he said.

Turkey insists Russia relations not disrupted

Macron also riled Turkey in Sunday's interview by declaring that the Western intervention had driven a wedge between Ankara and Moscow, who have been becoming increasingly close recently.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed the air strikes, while Russia opposed them and tried unsuccessfully to persuade the UN Security Council to condemn them.

Turkey's relations with Russia "are not so weak that the French president can break them", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference with Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday.

"We have strong relations with Russia," he added.