France open to Iran presence at Syria talks

France open to Iran presence at Syria talks
Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:48:16

French President Francois Hollande says his country will welcome Iran’s presence in the upcoming Syria peace conference in Geneva.

In a final G8 summit communique in Northern Ireland, global leaders called for the so-called Geneva 2 talks to be held as soon as possible to end the Syrian crisis.

Paris had previously ruled out Iran taking part in the proposed conference.

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

Iranians elected a new president 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 President Bashar al-Assad should step down.

The Syria unrest dominated the latest meeting of G8 leaders. In their final declaration, the participants promised to make diplomatic efforts to find a political solution to the crisis in the Arab country.

Syria has been gripped by unrest since March 2011, and thousands of people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security forces, have been killed in the violence.

“We remain committed to achieving a political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria,” the G8 communiqué read, urging the holding of the Geneva conference as soon as possible.

UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi said on June 7 that the event might be held in July. The talks had originally been planned to be held in June.

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