Putin halts France visit amid Syria row

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has cancelled a planned visit to France amid a row over Syria.

He had been due to meet French President Francois Hollande and open a new Orthodox church later this month.

But after France’s government said talks would be confined to Syria the visit was halted, French presidential sources said.

On Monday, Mr. Hollande suggested Russia could face war crimes charges over its bombardment of Syria’s city of Aleppo.

The French presidency had told the Russians Mr. Hollande would attend only one event with Mr. Putin during the visit planned for 19 October – a working meeting on Syria, according to the sources.

But after this Russia “let it be known that it wanted to postpone the visit”, they added.

A spokesman for Mr Putin confirmed the trip had been cancelled, adding that the visit would take place when it becomes “comfortable for President Hollande”.

Despite this Mr. Hollande has said he will meet Mr Putin at “any time” if it would “further peace”.

The development comes a day after Mr. Hollande told French TV that prosecutions over Syria could take place in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“These are people who today are the victims of war crimes. Those that commit these acts will have to face up to their responsibility, including in the ICC,” he said.

Neither Russia nor Syria is a member of the ICC.

Moscow has repeatedly denied attacking civilians, and says it targets terrorist groups in Syria.

The besieged east of Aleppo has come under intense aerial bombardment since a cessation of hostilities brokered by the US and Moscow collapsed last month.

The area was hit again on Tuesday in some of the heaviest air strikes in days, a monitoring group and activists said.



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