The French foreign minister has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin cancelled a planned visit to Paris because he was "embarrassed" to discuss Russia's bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo.
French President Francois Hollande had insisted that diplomatic talks during his visit on October 19 should focus on Russia's aggression in Syria, prompting the Kremlin to cancel the trip.
"Vladimir Putin refused to come and talk about Syria, that's what we must remember. And I regret that," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Europe 1 radio on October 12.
"Vladimir Putin has stepped up his bombardment of Aleppo, so I imagine coming to Paris to talk about Syria would have been very embarrassing," he said.
Moscow over the weekend blocked a draft French UN resolution calling for an end to its air strikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo, which have intensified in the last month, leaving hundreds of people dead, including dozens of children.