Last updated: 11 June, 2012

France to hold talks with Russia on Syria conference

France said Monday it will hold talks with Russia on its idea of an international Syria conference including Iran and urged the new head of the Syrian National Council to unite the opposition.

“We will have new contacts with Russia this week on the subject,” a ministry spokesman, Vincent Floreani, told a press conference.

“We are consulting with all our partners in the international community who support the effective implementation of joint special envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan,” he said.

Russia is pressing the idea of an international Syria conference that includes Iran, a key Damascus ally which Moscow argues must be brought on board in order to help negotiate an end to the 17-month crisis.

France has said it backs Annan’s bid to bring key powers into a contact group on the Syria crisis, but Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has said that Iran could in no way be involved in such a group.

Floreani also congratulated Kurdish activist Abdel Basset Sayda on his naming as the SNC’s new leader this weekend and called on him to work to bring the country’s diverse regime critics together.

“It is crucial that the Syrian opposition manage to unite in a spirit of openness and togetherness around a common vision for Syria’s future,” he said.