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Putin cancels Paris trip over diplomatic rift with the West – Russia becomes nuclear defensive

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October 2016MOSCOW/WASHINGTON – Vladimir Putin has cancelled a trip to Paris next week after the French government accused Russian and Syrian government forces of committing war crimes in Aleppo, amid a deepening diplomatic rift over the conflict there. “The president has decided to cancel this visit,” Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, said on Tuesday.  “From the very start of his exchanges with his French colleague, President Putin noted that he is ready to visit Paris when it is comfortable for President Hollande. So we’ll wait for when that comfortable time comes,” he added.

Mr. Putin had been due to visit Paris on October 19 to open a new Russian Orthodox cathedral and visit a Russian art exhibition in the French capital. French diplomatic sources said the Kremlin pulled out after Mr. Hollande refused to discuss anything at a planned bilateral meeting other than the Syrian crisis. “There were contacts between the Kremlin and the Elysee this morning to offer to Putin a working visit on Syria, but excluding all other events that President Hollande could have taken part in,” a source told Reuters.

On Monday Mr. Hollande said he had not yet decided whether to host Mr. Putin, saying that pro-government forces in Syria troops had committed a “war crime” in the city of Aleppo with Russian support.

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