France has given a conditional welcome for Iran's intention to attend the Geneva 2 conference which will seek to negotiate an end to the bloodshed in Syria. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Monday that there are "considerable reasons" for Iran to attend.
"There is an argument, which is a strong one, for the presence of Iran," said Fabius. "When you have to make peace, it is between fighters, and Iran is involved in the conflict."
However, he added, there are two "buts" to the welcome: Iran must agree on the formation of a transitional government in Syria without Bashar Al-Assad at the helm, and it must accept that just because it is involved in finding a solution for the Syrian crisis it won't have the right to resume its nuclear programme.
"The Iranians have to accept the aim of Geneva 2," he said. "It has to be made clear to them that there is a barrier between the Syrian case and the nuclear programme." The government in Tehran, added Fabius, cannot say that it agrees to a solution on Syria if the rest of us agree to back off with regards to its nuclear weapons programme. "These are two entirely different and disconnected issues."
It expected that French President François Hollande will meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday on the fringe of the UN General Assembly in New York.