Injury-prone Diaby last featured with Les Bleus in a friendly against Poland in June last year and missed the European Championship because of a calf injury.
The 26-year-old, regarded for years as one of the best French midfielders, has won 15 caps.
"There always will be questions about his physical fragility but he prepared well, he played 90 minutes [for Arsenal] last weekend. He is on the right path," Deschamps told a news conference.
"His potential is huge. He is a very interesting player. He's also 26, more mature, which is crucial for a midfielder."
Paris Saint-Germain winger Jeremy Menez returns after he served a one-match ban for insulting the referee in the Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat to eventual champions Spain.
"His suspension is over, this is ancient history. I am only interested in the future and he can be part of it. It is up to him to understand what he can do and cannot," Deschamps said.
Deschamps, who replaced Laurent Blanc, in July, left out Newcastle forward Hatem Ben Arfa, who received a warning when he was summoned to a disciplinary hearing along with Menez, Manchester City's Samir Nasri and Stade Rennes' Yann M'Vila after the Euros.
Deschamps had been at odds with Ben Arfa when he was his coach at Olympique Marseille.
"I am in a new position, I am not his everyday coach anymore. I know him, as a person and as a player. If I had no intention to call him someday, I would not include him in the provisional list," Deschamps said.
Nasri is serving a three-match ban for his conduct during Euro 2012, while M'Vila, who received a warning at the disciplinary hearing, was not selected.
France have been drawn in qualifying group H, also containing defending champions Spain and Georgia.
Goalkeepers: Mickael Landreau (Lille), Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille).
Defenders: Gael Clichy (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Christophe Jallet (Paris Saint-Germain) Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Adil Rami (Valence), Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyon), Mamadou Sakho (Paris Saint-Germain), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier).
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle), Etienne Capoue (Toulouse), Abou Diaby (Arsenal), Maxime Gonalons (Olympique Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille).
Strikers: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Bafetimbi Gomis (Olympique Lyon), Jeremy Menez (Paris Saint-Germain), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich).
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