PARIS (AP) — The French foreign minister is suggesting that the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad is not imminent — a stark admission by France, one of the most ardent supporters of the Syrian rebels.

France was the first country to recognize the coalition fighting Assad as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. On Monday, France hosts a conference to support the coalition and to encourage donors to deliver on their pledges.

Laurent Fabius acknowledged Thursday that progress in Syria has ground to a halt, though he has long held that Assad’s fall is inevitable.

He told reporters: “The solution that we hoped for — that is to say, Bashar’s fall, the rise of the opposition to power — there are no recent signs that are as positive as that.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.