Washington: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down as soon as possible to end the brutal civil war in the country, France President Francois Hollande said reiterating this to be the first step towards having a solution to the current crisis.
"I will not provide you with a date because it must be as soon as possible. That is one of the requirements for a solution to stand," Hollande told reporters at a joint White House news conference with US President Barack Obama.
He and Obama were responding to questions on what is the timeline for the removal of Assad, one of their commonly set goals.
The news conference was held after the meeting between the two leaders in the Oval Office.
"Those who believe that we could wait some more and that, in any case, it was far away, we now realise that we have an influx of refugees that the terrorists, the risk is everywhere due to Daesh. We, therefore, must act," Hollande said.
Obama in response to the same question said, "It is the best opportunity. And so the notion that there would be an immediate date in advance of getting a broad agreement on that political process and the details doesn't make sense".
"As soon as we have a framework for political transition, potentially a new constitution, elections, I think it is in that context that we can start looking at Assad choosing not to run and potentially seeing a new Syria emerge," he said.
But it's going to be hard, Obama added.
"We should not be under any illusions. Syria has broken down. It began to break down the moment that Assad started killing indiscriminately his own people. ISIL was able to move in to Raqqa in part because of a thorough rejection on the part of many Syrians of the Assad regime, and a power vacuum emerged," he said.
Obama said that it is going to be a difficult, long, methodical process to bring back together various factions within Syria to maintain a Syrian state and institutions, and to create the kind of stability that allows people to start coming back in and rebuilding their lives. But it's possible.
"And the urgency that we have seen, even before Paris, out of countries like Russia, indicate that they recognise they can't be there too long and ultimately win a military battle successfully," Obama said.
France and the US held the meeting to strengthen the coalition against the Islamic State in the wake of the horrific Paris terrorist attack by the dreaded terror group.
Hollande's trip to Washington was part of a diplomatic push to get the US and other nations to bolster efforts to destroy the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.