In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, speaks during an interview with a U.S. magazine, in Damascus, Syria, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.(AP Photo/SANA)
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Four French lawmakers met with Syrian President Bashar Assad Wednesday during a private trip to the war-torn country, despite a breakdown in diplomatic ties between Paris and Damascus.The French government, which supports the moderate Syrian opposition and wants Assad to leave power, was quick to clarify that the lawmakers were there in no official capacity. Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll stressed it was "in no way an official French initiative" and the foreign ministry said earlier that the lawmakers did not carry any "official message".A Syrian governmental source said the lawmakers were also due to meet Foreign Minister Walid Moallem Wednesday.France severed diplomatic ties with Syria in 2012, along with Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain, as what started as a pro-democracy protest seeking Assad's ouster in March 2011 morphed into a full-blown war. Paris supports the moderate Syrian opposition both politically and militarily, and wants to try and resolve the crisis through negotiations between members of the opposition and the Syrian regime -- but without Assad.
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