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Assad and Zarif Photo: EPA
Assad and Zarif Photo: EPA
 
 

Iran's FM discusses peace talks with Syria's Assad

Despite looming Syrian peace talks, Iranian FM Zarif visits Damascus and meets with representatives of the Syrian government, including Assad as part of regional diplomatic tour

Associated Press
Published: 01.15.14, 16:11 / Israel News

Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iran's visiting foreign minister have held talks about next week's United Nations conference aimed at trying to resolve the three-year deadly conflict.

 

 

Iran is Assad's strongest regional ally and is believed to have given the Syrian government weapons and billions of dollars since the crisis began in March 2011.

 

State television says Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed Tehran's support for Assad's government to make the conference successful.  Zarif's visit comes ahead of the Jan. 22 conference in Montreux, Switzerland.

 

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The UN, which is hosting the talks, has not yet invited Iran to attend, although a final decision had yet to be made.

 

When it comes to Iran's participation in Geneva II, Iran rejects all forms of preconditions on its participation," Zarif said.

 

"If the Islamic Republic of Iran receives a formal invitation, according to the criteria adopted for the invitations to the other parties, without preconditions, it will participate," he said.

 

However, the prospects for success at the talks appear slim at best.

 

Damascus is Zarif's second stop on his Mideast 'charm offensive' tour, part of the Iranian strategy to rebrand the nation's ailing image after the election of President Hassan Rohani.

 

The Iranian foreign minister visited the Lebanese capital and met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

 

According to Al-Manar, Hezbollah's media outlet, Zarif laid a wreath at the grave of executed Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh and toured the Iranian embassy in Beirut which was the target of a terrorist attack in November.

 

Zarif also met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, and the two spoke about the upcoming Syrian peace talks in Geneva. Parties working to prevent Iran from participating in Syria peace talks in Switzerland next week will regret denying Tehran a role, Iran's foreign minister said on Monday.

 

Roi Kais and AFP contributed to this report

 

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