The French foreign ministry denied Wednesday comments attributed earlier to Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, questioning the staying power of Bashar Assad, son and heir apparent of late president Hafez Assad.
Following "the comments made by (government spokesman) Mr. Vaillant after the cabinet meeting on Syria, the foreign ministry clarifies that the statements reported were never made," ministry spokeswoman Anne Gazeau-Secret said.
Vaillant had quoted Vedrine as saying Bashar will probably be named to succeed his father, who ruled Syria for 30 years, but "the question that presents itself is whether he will be able to exercise power in the long term."
According to the government spokesman, Vedrine had also questioned whether "the hoped for changes will be possible under his authority," noting uncertainty over the resumption of peace talks with Israel.
Vaillant had said the French minister's comments were made to the rest of the cabinet during a discussion of the international situation -- PARIS (AFP)
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