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Iran president 'wants to discuss Syria' at UN meet: Hollande

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A handout picture released by the Iranian presidency shows Iranian President Hassan Rowhani attending an interview broadcast live on state television in Tehran on September 10, 2013.Iranian presidency/AFP/File

French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said that Iran's new President Hassan Rowhani has requested to meet with him on the sidelines of next week's UN General Assembly in New York to discuss the crisis in Syria.

Speaking on his way back to Paris after a visit to the Malian capital Bamako, Hollande said there was a planned "meeting with the Iranian president, at his request, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting."

The meeting would be the first of its kind between heads of state from the two countries in years, diplomats travelling with Hollande told reporters.

The proposed meeting comes as Rowhani, who won a surprise victory in June's presidential election, appears to be making overtures towards the West as he seeks to rebuild Iran's tarnished international image.

Earlier on Thursday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, during which the Syrian conflict was also discussed.

Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said the secretary-general and Zarif had discussed the role Tehran could play in promoting a political solution to the conflict in Syria.

Zarif told reporters he had a "good meeting" with the UN leader.

Syria has been the subject of intense diplomacy over the past week, with Damascus agreeing to a high-stakes US-Russian plan to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal in a bid to avert US-led military action.

Washington is pushing for the UN Security Council to agree to a binding resolution on Syria's chemical weapons next week.