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Britain's Johnson Calls On Russia To Help Force Syria's Assad Out


British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is calling on Russia to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Britain's new foreign policy chief is due to meet for the first time on Syria with his peers from Germany, France, Italy, the European Union, and the United States in London on July 19.

"I will be making clear my view that the suffering of the Syrian people will not end while Assad remains in power. The international community, including Russia, must be united on this," he said in remarks released ahead of the meeting.

While the remarks are in line with Britain's past stance on Assad, it represents a reversal for the blunt-spoken Johnson, who last year had called on Britain to set aside its "Cold War mind-set" and work with Assad because he is a far better alternative to the Islamic State extremist group, which has taken over parts of Syria.

Russia, Assad, and Assad's other chief ally, Iran, have insisted, however, that he will only step down if he is voted out of office in an election that ushers in a new government.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP
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