PARIS - Syrian President Bashar Assad has told Russia he would be ready to step aside if Syrians chose another leader in an election, Russian Vice Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in remarks published on Monday.

French newspaper Le Figaro quoted him as saying in an interview after meeting Syrian dissidents in Paris that the "regime is still solid" and supported by an important part of the population who feared those who could take his place.

"Assad told us himself. But I don't know how sincere he is," Bogdanov said. "But he clearly told us that if the people didn't want him, and if they chose a different leader in an election, he would go."

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