Syria’s Assad says ready to hold presidential election with people’s blessing
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad speaks during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

MOSCOW: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Russian lawmakers in Damascus on Sunday that he was ready to take part in presidential elections if the Syrian people support the idea, RIA news agency reported, citing a lawmaker at the meeting.

Interfax news agency cited the same lawmaker as saying Assad had also expressed a willingness to discuss amendments to Syria’s constitution and hold parliamentary elections.

Moscow is a key foreign ally for Assad, and Russia’s foreign minister said in comments aired on Russian TV on Saturday that the Kremlin wanted Syria to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.

RIA said Assad held the meeting with Russian lawmakers at his residence in Damascus on Sunday morning. State-run Syrian media reported that Assad was meeting a Russian delegation but made no mention of what he had told them.

“Assad said that if the Syrian people consider it necessary, he would not be against taking part in presidential elections,” RIA quoted lawmaker Alexander Yushchenko as saying.

Dmitry Sablin, another lawmaker in the Russian delegation, told TASS news agency that Assad had said the effectiveness of Russia’s military operation in Syria had exceeded expectations.

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