France has backed Boris Johnson's calls for senior Syrian figures and potentially Russian military commanders to face sanctions if they are implicated by an independent investigation into last week's chemical weapon attack.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, said in a joint article with Mr Johnson that France is prepared to pursue any individuals who were complicit in the atrocity in Syria.
It comes after Mr Johnson faced embarrassment last week after without securing backing for his plans for sanctions after Italy, France and Germany publicly rebuffed him, saying Mr Putin must not be “pushed into a corner”.
There will be no impunity
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister
A communiqué issued by the G7 made no mention of sanctions but included a significant new agreement that Bashar al-Assad cannot stay on as Syrian president.
However Mr Ayault has now signalled his support in a joint article in Le Monde and the Guardian, which says: "We are confident in this process [gathering evidence] and fully support it. There will be no impunity."
In the wake of the summit earlier this week a Government source told The Telegraph that the failure to secure an agreement on sanctions - which came on top of Mr Johnson cancelling a trip to Moscow - had been a "total let down".
But a spokesman for Mr Johnson said such a view was “completely short-sighted and wrong” because Russian and Syrian military figures would still face sanctions with the G7’s blessing if an independent investigation proves Assad was to blame for last week’s chemical attack and Mr Putin carried on backing him.
Mr Johnson insisted after the summit that the option of sanctions remained on the table and said there would be an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
“After that, if of course we can find people, whether they are Syrians or whether they are Russians associated with the Syrian military operation, it is in my view wholly appropriate that they should face economic sanctions or sanctions of some other kind,” he said.