Iran's president says Syria's Assad must stay in power

Iran's president says Syria's Assad must stay in power

Iran’s president has said Syrian leader Bashar Assad has to remain in power to fight extremist groups like Islamic State (IS), and must not be weakened.

Hasan Rouhani told a meeting with scholars and think-tank experts that Iran would co-operate with any country that puts fighting and defeating “terrorism” as its top priority, but could not work with any government that made a change in Syria’s regime its top priority.

Mr Rouhani’s view puts Iran at odds with key nations which adopted a road map in Geneva in June 2012 which calls for the formation of a transitional government in Syria with full executive powers “on the basis of mutual consent”.

He warned that putting regime change first would lead to an extremist takeover of Syria.

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