Assad says he's ready to hold presidential election -- if Syrians want him to

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.