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Annan Backs Iran Playing 'Positive' Role In Ending Syria Crisis

Kofi Annan (left), an envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League on Syria, attends a news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi after a meeting with senior Iranian officials on July 10.
Visiting international envoy Kofi Annan has said in Tehran that Iran can play a “positive” role in resolving the Syrian crisis, and that the Islamic republic has offered support for ending the conflict peacefully.

Annan was speaking after talks in the Iranian capital with Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

"I must say that throughout my assumption of the function of special envoy, I have received encouragement and cooperation from the [Iranian foreign] minister and from the government," Annan said, "and I look forward to working together, continuing to work together, to resolve this conflict."

Annan did not specify what support Iran has offered to resolve the conflict. But Tehran, along with Russia, are the Syrian regime’s main remaining international allies.

However, the United States and European Union, which are in a dispute with Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program, have objected to Iran playing a role in settling the 16-month-old conflict between the Syrian government and opponents who seek the end of the regime.

Annan, the joint envoy of the United Nations and Arab League, said he could only speak for himself regarding Iranian involvement.

Support For Annan Plan

Speaking at the joint news conference, Foreign Minister Salehi expressed Iran's full support for Annan's peace plan aimed at ending the Syrian bloodshed.

The Annan plan -- which called for a cease-fire to take hold in April and negotiations launched -- has never been implemented by the Syrian regime nor the opposition.

The Iranian foreign minister also reiterated Tehran's support for the Assad regime, saying the president should be given the chance to implement his promised reforms.

Salehi said "any wrong decisions" in regard to the Syrian conflict "could lead to a regional catastrophe."

In Moscow, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on July 10 that Russia wanted to host a new meeting of foreign powers on the Syrian crisis.

Bogdanov, however, echoed Iran in stressing that the talks should not decide Assad's fate.

Bogdanov also said Saudi Arabia -- a major supporter of the Syrian opposition -- and Iran should both participate in any new international conference. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia were excluded from a June 30 meeting on the crisis in Geneva.

Violence Rages On

The Geneva talks ended with a broad consensus on the need for a transition of power in Syria, but it did not reach agreement on Assad's fate.

Russia has for years been a major weapons supplier to the Syrian regime and operates a naval base there.

The British-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 98 people, including 34 Syrian soldiers, were killed nationwide on July 9 as the Syrian violence continued.

The observatory says more than 17, 000 people -- mostly civilians, but also members of the security forces -- have been killed since the conflict began in March, 2011. The figures provided by the group cannot be independently verified.

Based on reporting by dpa, AFP, and AP

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