France not optimistic about Syria


PARIS (AP) -- France's foreign minister says he's not optimistic about a peace plan for Syria and is ready to push for stronger U.N. action if an April 12 deadline for a cease-fire is not met.

Alain Juppe says he thinks Syrian President Bashar Assad "is deceiving us" when he promises to abide by the peace plan. It is being negotiated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Juppe, speaking to reporters Thursday, asked, "Can we be optimistic? I am not."

He said if all the conditions of the cease-fire plan are not met, including the arrival of 200 observers, by April 12, "we must go back to the U.N. Security Council."

Annan's peace plan calls for Syrian troops to pull out of towns and cities, followed by a withdrawal by rebel fighters, and talks toward a political solution.