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France's Hollande says pushing hard for Syria solution
VARCES, France |
VARCES, France (Reuters) - President Francois Hollande said on Saturday France was pushing hard for a political end to the conflict in Syria, after the conservative opposition angered the government by calling for rapid foreign intervention.
Hollande, breaking off his summer holiday to attend a ceremony for a soldier killed in Afghanistan, said France had deployed a medical team to Jordan to help with the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflict in neighboring Syria.
"We are carrying out our humanitarian duty in addition to support for the Syrian opposition and also a determined search for a political transition in Syria," he said at the military ceremony, standing before the flag-draped coffin of France's 88th soldier killed in Afghanistan.
France, which holds the rotating chair of the U.N. Security Council this month, has convened a ministerial-level meeting of the body for August 30 to discuss the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria and the wider region.
It was Hollande's first comment on Syria since his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy called on Wednesday for a rapid international intervention, likening the bloodshed there to the early days of war in Libya in which he mobilized a NATO-led force which helped rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi.
After Sarkozy's remarks, his first official statement since losing to Hollande in May's election, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused him of appearing to undermine government policy.
But Sarkozy's conservative UMP opposition hit back, with one legislator accusing Hollande of "peacefully sunbathing on the beach" while massacres were taking place in Syria.
(Reporting By Robert Pratta in Varces, Yves Clarisse and Daniel Flynn in Paris)
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