vladimir putin.jpg
Photograph: EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled a visit scheduled for next week to Paris, as French President Francois Hollande said he would "only talk about Syria."

The Kremlin confirmed that Putin had called off the trip on Tuesday, a day after France said it wanted the bombardment of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo to be investigated by the International Criminal Court as a war crime.

The rift between Russia and Western countries over the Syrian conflict has only been deepening and two recent resolutions at the UN Security Council - one by France and Spain, the second by Russia - urging an immediate ceasefire in Syria failed to pass.

Hollande said that he agreed to Putin's visit "if it would allow us to talk about Syria, and only Syria."

"France has a major disagreement with Russia about Syria," he said. "The Russian veto of France's security resolution prevented the cessation of bombardments and the declaration of a truce. The principal victims are the civilian populations, those who live under bombardments die under bombardments."

The French leader was speaking to the Council of Europe shortly after the cancellation was confirmed by Moscow.

Hollande said that he was always open to a visit by Putin to discuss peace, especially in Syria, but added that he had declined to accompany the Russian leader during the inauguration of an Orthodox church that was scheduled in Paris.

"I made it known to President Putin that if he should come to Paris, I would not accompany him to the ceremony - but that I was ready to pursue dialogue over Syria," Hollande said.

"He preferred to postpone his visit, which doesn't prevent other occasions for discussion," the French president said. "But he will not come to Paris."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "since the beginning of contacts with his French colleague, Putin has noted that he will be ready to visit Paris at a time that is convenient for President Hollande. So we will wait until a convenient time appears," according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Russia has drawn Western condemnation for its continued backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its role in the bombardment of Aleppo, the country's most populous city, parts of which are controlled by the government, while others are held by militant groups, including al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for a war crimes investigation into the bombing of Aleppo.

"Who has carried out the bombardments? There are the Syrians, but also the Russians, who have come with their sophisticated weapons that allow them to penetrate down to bunkers where people are trying to protect themselves," Ayrault said.

Meanwhile, Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said that there was no confirmation on whether Putin would visit Berlin on October 19 for talks with Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the Ukraine conflict.

Russia's ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, told Europe 1 radio earlier on Tuesday that Putin would travel to Berlin that day to meet with Merkel and Hollande for so-called Normandy format talks to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's office said he had not received any formal invitation to such a meeting in Berlin. Merkel's office also has not confirmed the meeting.

Related stories

Latest news

Thousands of Romanians revive anti-government protests

Thousands of Romanians turned out on Sunday to renew their demands for the government to step down amid accusations it is trying to protect corrupt politicians.

Francis, first pope to visit Anglicans in Rome, weighs S Sudan trip

Pope Francis became the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit the Anglican community in Rome on Sunday, where he said he was considering a trip to famine-struck South Sudan.

Ibrahimovic lifts Man United past Southampton in League Cup final

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored an 87th-minute winner as Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2 in an exciting League Cup final on Sunday.

London screens Iranian director's film amid Oscars boycott

Thousands of people watched a free screeening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's film "The Salesman" in London on Sunday to coincide with the Oscars.

Real Madrid stage comeback to stay top; Messi scores in Barcelona win

Lionel Messi scored the winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 on Sunday to move top of the Spanish first division.

Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World

The Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel has joined the Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., a global hospitality consortium of more than 375 hotels and resorts in over 75 countries.

Biggest Bosnian Serb party ceases all contact with Izetbegovic over ICJ judjment review request

The main committee of the biggest Bosnian Serb party which makes up the ruling majority in Bosnia and Herzegovina decided o Sunday that its officials would cease all contact with member of the Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic until the crisis occurred following the submission of a request to the International Court of justice (ICJ) to review its ruling against Serbia is resolved.

Egypt court adjourns Morsi retrial over prison escape

An Egyptian court adjourned a case against former president Mohamed Morsi until March 29 on Sunday, during the first session of his retrial over orchestrating a prison escape during the 2011 uprising.

Hamas rejects Netanyahu's proposal for international forces in Gaza

The Islamic Hamas movement rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal to send international forces to the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave that Hamas has been ruling since 2007.

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.