French president and Saudi crown prince vow partnerships on Syria

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Tuesday that his country would support airstrikes against the Syrian government if an alliance including France, Britain and the U.S. called for such a military operation.

Mohammed, who was on his first official visit to France, made the comments during a news conference with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

“If our alliance with our partners demands it we will respond,” said Mohammed, the heir to the Saudi throne.

Earlier, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told reporters in Paris his country was “greatly concerned” about a suspected chemical weapons attack Saturday that aid groups and activists said killed dozens of people in the city of Duma in Syria’s east Ghouta region, but made no mention of Saudi Arabia taking part in any potential intervention.

Macron said Tuesday that France had “red lines” regarding the access of humanitarian aid to Syria and the suspected use of chemical weapons by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Macron said he would announce in the “coming days” whether France would respond militarily.

France’s decision would be separate from United Nations Security Council discussions over a possible international response to the alleged chemical attack, he said.

“We are going to continue an exchange of technical and strategic exchanges with our partners, particularly the British and Americans, and in the next few days we will announce our decision,” Macron told journalists.

President Trump has blamed the Syrian government for the suspected chemical attack, called Assad “Animal Assad” and warned of a “big price to pay.”

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On Monday, ambassadors for the United States and Russia, an Assad ally, exchanged sharp comments during an emergency session of the U. N. Security Council to debate a U.S.-drafted proposal to create an independent panel to investigate poison gas use in Syria.