TEHRAN, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said here Saturday that Bashar al-Assad is currently the " legal" president of Syria and will take part in the presidential elections in 2014.
Salehi made the remarks at a joint press conference with his visiting Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moallem in Tehran.
Syria, like any other country, has a president by elections, said Salehi, adding that by the next elections in Syria, Assad is the legal president of the Syrians and this is the official stance of the Islamic republic.
In the next presidential elections of Syria, anybody who is elected by the people will be the president of the Syrians for the next term, said the Iranian foreign minister.
Also, Salehi said that no country, except Syria, would be allowed to decide for the Syrians.
No country outside has the right to make decisions for Syria, Salehi said, adding that nobody can inflict its will on the Syrians using force and arms.
Salehi said there is no military solution to the Syrian issue, and the first and foremost demand of the Islamic republic is to end the violence in the Arab state.
He said foreign intervention in the Middle-Eastern Arab state is not acceptable, adding that Iran supports the efforts by the joint special representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria, Lakhtar Brahimi, to bring peace to the war-torn state.
Iran and Syria has a long history of relations and Iranians will never forget Syria's support for Iran during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), said Salehi.
Iran is the major regional ally of the Syrian government in its conflict with armed opposition groups.
For his part, al-Moallem said Saturday that the talks between the Syrian government and the opposition groups have started and in order for the talks to bear "successful" results, the violence in the country should be stopped.
Joint efforts should be done to stop violence, he said, emphasizing that those who back "terrorists" with arms and finance should give up their supports.
"We should make efforts to end bloodshed in Syria," and those who avoid dialogue must be held accountable, he maintained.
The current dialogue in Syria displays that the crisis in the country would be resolved "only through political means," said al- Moallem.
He further stressed that the Syrian Army is duty-bound to defend the country against "terrorists."
Rejecting pressures on the Syrian government, he added that his country will not allow anybody to violate its sovereignty and will not accept the dictations and pressures of the foreigners.
The Syrian nation is able to overcome the crisis and to choose its leaders, and they are able to show their will via ballot boxes, said the Syrian foreign minister.
Reforms in the country is only possible through national dialogue, he added.
The Syrian foreign minister criticized international sanctions against his country, saying that the sanctions by the United States and the European Union have hurt the ordinary people in the Arab state.
Al-Moallem, who arrived in Tehran on Saturday, will meet other high-ranking Iranian officials, including Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Secretary Saeed Jalili, to discuss the latest bilateral and regional developments.
GENEVA, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations will be prepared to facilitate a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition group, UN chief and UN-Arab League Joint Special Representative said Saturday after a closed-door meeting held in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland.
The United Nations would welcome and be prepared to facilitate a dialogue between a strong and representative delegation from the opposition and a credible and empowered delegation from the Syrian Government can take place according to an agreed agenda," Ban Ki-moon and Lakhdar Brahimi said in a joint-statement. Full story
WASHINGTON, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Saturday named Philip Gordon as special assistant to the president and new coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region.
Thomas Donilon, President Barack Obama's top security advisor, said that Gordon will take up his duties on March 11. He described Gordon as "a key member" of Obama's foreign policy team for the past four years, adding that "his work with our European allies and partners has been indispensable in helping us to formulate policy and address issues around the globe, including Libya, Syria and Iran." Full story
CAIRO, March 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held talks on Saturday in Cairo with Arab League (AL) Secretary- General Nabil al-Arabi on the recent regional developments, particularly the Syrian crisis, Egypt's official news agency MENA reported.
Kerry and al-Arabi discussed the Arab and international efforts to put an end to Syria's escalating violence. Full story