France elections 2022: Le Pen calls for the reopening of diplomatic ties with Syria's Assad
French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen has called for the restoration of diplomatic relations with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, ahead of the second round of elections on 24 April.
The far-right candidate criticised President Emmanuel Macron’s policy of isolating Assad when outlining her foreign policy platform at a news conference in Paris on Wednesday, according to state-owned French broadcaster RFI.
Instead, she said “channels of dialogue and communication" were needed “in critical, complex moments of crisis… especially when [Syria] was confronted with Islamist terror,” reported RFI.
Le Pen has previously said that allowing Bashar al-Assad to remain in power may be the "least bad option" for Syria.
She is also a long-time admirer of Russian president Vladimir Putin, a key ally to Russia- though she has downplayed this during Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Macron has said a “return to normal” in Syria with Assad in power would be a “grotesque error”.
During the 11-year war, Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against civilians and conducted mass torture and extrajudicial killings to target specific communities, according to Human Rights Watch.
Le Pen also talked about other policies that would impact the Middle East region during the press conference.
The National Front leader defended a “two-state solution” for Palestine and Israel - a stance matching up with current French policy - and welcomed the normalisation of ties between Israel and Arab states.
She called for France to be independent and powerful on the international scene, and urged for stronger bilateral, rather than multilateral ties with countries such as Lebanon.
Le Pen was the runner-up to Macron in the first round of voting on Sunday. Opinion polls indicate she is only a few points behind the incumbent president ahead of the final round of voting.