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France open to Iranian presence at Syria talks: Hollande

Source: Tehran Times

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday opened the door to Iran attending a Syria peace conference, Reuters reported. Global leaders called for the so-called Geneva 2 talks to be held as soon as possible to end the Syrian civil war but they avoided mentioning the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a final G8 summit communique in Northern Ireland.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (R) with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in October 2010. Iran is the closest ally of Syria in the Middle East.

Paris had previously ruled out Iran taking part in the proposed conference, claiming that Tehran had no desire for peace and would use the Syria talks to detract from negotiations later in the year with major powers over its nuclear program.

"On the presence of Iran, let's wait for the new president to speak and let's see if he can be constructive," Hollande told reporters. "My view is that if he is constructive, then yes he will be welcome."

Iranians elected a new president, Hassan Rohani, on Friday, a moderate cleric who held out the prospect of a thaw in relations with the West and progress on resolving the nuclear dispute.

At the G8 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin resisted attempts by other leaders to get him to agree to anything that would imply Assad should step down.

"There will no future for Syria with Assad. The Russians are not yet ready to say or write it, but when we speak of transition ... it's difficult to see how he (Assad) could be responsible for it," Hollande said.

... Payvand News - 06/20/13 ... --

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