Ahmadinejad to Assad: We are on same front
Iranian president's Syrian ally arrives in Tehran to personally congratulate him on his reelection, says vote was an important lesson 'to the foreigners'. Ahmadinejad accuses West of attempting to stop 'resistance' in Middle East, but clarifies it will be defeated
Ahmadinejad said during the meeting that the West was attempting to stop the "resistance" in the Middle East, but was in for a great defeat.
Official news agency IRNA reported that Assad was welcomed at the Tehran airport by Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Assad was accompanied by Syrian President Walid Moallem. He was then greeted in an official ceremony by Ahmadinejad, at the president's residence in Tehran.
Assad is the second leader to visit the Iranian president since his inauguration ceremony, after Oman's sultan. His visit is expected to last one day.
Warm welcome. Assad and Ahmadinejad in Tehran (Photo: Reuters)
Iranian media reported that Assad had come to Iran to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his reelection. "With the help of God, the resistance of the region's people will prevail and they will suffer a great defeat," the Iranian president said during his meeting with his Syrian counterpart.
"Iran and Syria are on the same front, and any political event is an opportunity which must be used at the best way possible while helping one another," he added.
Assad condemned the "foreign intervention" in Iran's internal affairs, saying that the main reason for this was the West's fear of Syria and Iran's success in the coming years.
"I believe the Iranian people's reelection is another emphasis on the fact that Iran and Syria must continue the regional policy as in the past," the Syrian president said.
He added, "Today I came here to give you and the Iranian people warm greetings. I think that what happened in Iran is an important thing and a big lesson to the foreigners, and therefore they are not very satisfied."
Assad expressed his confidence that from now on, the international community would welcome Iran and Syria more than it did in the past.
Iran awaits new government
This was the Syrian president's fourth visit in Iran during Ahmadinejad's tenure. His last visit was in August 2008.
Syria and Iran have a strategic alliance and are coordinating their stands on a series of issues, including towards Israel. The current visit was held after French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Syria for its help in releasing a French student and a worker of the French Embassy in Tehran. The two have been accused of helping inflame the riots which broke out in Iran after the disputed elections.
Much of the international attention Wednesday focused on whether Assad lobbies for the release of Clotilde Reiss, a French academic on trial with more than 100 politicians, journalists and activists accused of trying to engineer a "velvet revolution" to overthrow the Islamic leadership.
Reiss was released last week on bail, but judicial authorities have barred her from leaving the country.
The Iranian parliament, meanwhile, awaiting the formal list of the president's Cabinet nominees, put out its own list of expected nominees based on the president's past statements.
The list included three women proposed for the education, health and welfare ministries. If confirmed, they would be Iran's first female government ministers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The other expected nominees in the 21-member Cabinet feature a heavy dose of names from Ahmadinejad's first government. They include a proposal to shift Mostafa Mohammad Najjar from defense minister to interior and moving Masoud Mirkazemi from commerce to the key post of oil minister. Ahmadinejad also seeks to retain Manouchehr Mottaki as foreign minister.
The list is normally presented in a letter. The president would then appear in front of parliament next week as each nominee is debated.
The Associated Press contributed to this report