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Hollande pressed to amend foreign policy after Paris attacks

Updated: 2015-11-17 09:30

Hollande pressed to amend foreign policy after Paris attacks

French President Francois Hollande speaks at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, the day after a series of deadly attacks in the French capital, November 14, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]


The renewed policy debate in Paris echoes similar arguments being thrashed out in Washington and London.

Republican US presidential candidates are demanding much tougher action against IS than President Barack Obama has undertaken so far, while British Prime Minister David Cameron is struggling to convince lawmakers to authorise British participation in air strikes in Syria.

Unlike the United States, France has generally had a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy and the differences over Syria policy may be less deep in France than they appear.

French officials say Paris was left high and dry when Obama reversed course and cancelled a plan to strike Assad's forces in August 2013 over the use of chemical weapons. French warplanes were ready on the runway when the word came from Washington that the US president had decided against action.

"We wanted to go all the way in 2013, but in the end we got slapped by Barack Obama and we found ourselves alone," a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We lost influence and now we don't really see how to move forward there."

Paris recently joined coalition air strikes in Syria after more than a year of bombing in Iraq. But until last night it had carried out just five strikes, mostly to try to ensure a seat in any negotiation, officials acknowledge.

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