* First French leader to meet Iranian president since 2005
* Hollande tells Rouhani wants quick results on nuclear
* Wants mention of Chapter 7 in UN Syria resolution
By John Irish
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24 French President
Francois Hollande became the first Western leader to meet new
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday after warning that
Paris expects "concrete gestures" by Iran to show it will give
up a military nuclear program.
France has been a strong advocate of sanctions to pressure
Iran over its nuclear program but has been cautious in its
statements since Rouhani, a relative moderate, was elected in
Hollande, who exchanged handshakes with Rouhani at the
United Nations in mid-afternoon - the first between leaders of
the two countries since 2005 - told the U.N. General Assembly
that while he was encouraged by the words of the new Iranian
government, he now wanted acts to follow.
"France expects of Iran concrete gestures which will show
that this country renounces its military nuclear program even if
it clearly has the right to pursue its civilian program,"
Hollande said in an address to the assembly before going into a
meeting with Rouhani.
"This is why I have made the choice to engage in direct and
open dialogue with President Rouhani," Hollande said. "But I
will also say ... I am in favor of dialogue, but just as
strongly I am firm on the issue of nuclear proliferation."
After a 40-minute meeting, a French aide said the encounter
had been polite and courteous, with the two men discussing the
crisis in Syria, Lebanon and Iran's nuclear program.
"The French president said he had taken note of the
overtures by his counterpart ... and on the nuclear issue he
said that there needed to be quick results within the 5+1
framework," the aide said.
Since Rouhani was elected president, the centrist cleric has
called for "constructive interaction" with the world, a dramatic
shift in tone from the strident anti-Western and anti-Israeli
rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The United States and its allies suspect Iran is seeking
nuclear bomb-making capability despite Tehran's insistence that
its atomic program has only peaceful aims. Rouhani has vowed
that his government would never develop nuclear weapons.
Tough sanctions imposed by Washington and the United Nations
over the issue have taken a severe toll on Iran's economy.
Hollande is the first Western leader of the P5+1 nations -
United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - to
meet Rouhani, and the first French leader to meet an Iranian
president since Jacques Chirac met Mohammad Khatami in 2005.
COERCIVE MEASURES ON SYRIA
Hollande also discussed the crisis in Syria with Rouhani, as
he hopes to persuade Tehran to loosen its support for President
Bashar al-Assad and accept the terms of the proposed Geneva 2
peace conference that calls for a transitional authority in the
civil war-torn country, something Iran has so far not backed.
The French aide said Rouhani had told Hollande he wanted the
war to end and that he was open to the idea of Geneva 2.
Hollande earlier told the United Nations that too much time
had been wasted trying to end the 2-1/2-year civil war in Syria,
which the United Nations says has killed more than 100,000
"We must ensure that this war ends. It is the deadliest war
since the beginning of this century. The solution is a political
one and too much time has been lost," he said.
Reiterating calls from his foreign minister on Monday,
Hollande said he wanted a U.N. Security Council resolution that
would keep close to the terms of a U.S.-Russia deal to eradicate
Syria's chemical weapons. He said he would not demand the
resolution be placed under the U.N.'s Chapter 7, although it
should make reference to it.
"France wants a resolution that can foresee coercive
measures, that means under Chapter 7 in case the Syrian regime
does not comply with its commitments," Hollande told a news
conference. "The absence of any reference to Chapter 7 would
deprive the United Nations of any credibility to act."
Russia accused the West on Sunday of trying to exploit the
deal between Moscow and Washington to push through a council
resolution issued under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which
could authorize sanctions or military intervention if the Syrian
government reneges on its commitments.
According to the Geneva agreement, the Security Council
would have to adopt a second resolution to punish Syria for any
non-compliance with the U.S.-Russia plan.
Russia and China have blocked three U.N. resolutions meant
to pressure Assad during Syria's civil war.
In a clear sign of frustration with Moscow's continued
stance, Hollande also called on the five permanent members of
the Security Council to collectively drop their right to veto
resolutions in cases that included crimes against humanity.