Assad, Zarif hold security talks in Damascus

Assad, Zarif hold security talks in Damascus
Wed Jan 15, 2014 13:41:23

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has met Iranian Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif in the capital city of Damascus to talk about mutual ties and the ongoing crisis in the Arab country.

"President Assad is meeting Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his delegation," Syria's SANA reported on Wednesday.

Zarif arrived from Jordan, where he had been as part of a regional tour that also included a visit to Lebanon on Monday.

His meeting with Assad comes less than a week before the so-called Geneva II peace conference, which is aimed at ending the conflict in Syria that has killed more than 100,000 people in nearly three years.

Earlier, SANA had quoted Zarif as saying the purpose of his visit "was to help ensure that the international Geneva II conference on Syria brings about results that are in the interests of the Syrian people."

Zarif also said he would "work to coordinate a position... that would restore calm and security to Syria," while urging "all parties to battle extremism and terrorism, which are threats to us all."

The top Iranian diplomat had said in Beirut on Monday that countries seeking to keep Iran away from the Geneva II peace conference would "regret" his country's absence.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Tehran could participate in talks only if it agrees to the principles set out at the creation of a transitional government.

During his visit to Lebanon on Monday, Zarif met President Michel Sleiman as well as Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of the resistance movement Hezbollah.

Syria's opposition has issued several calls in recent weeks demanding Iran's exclusion from the Geneva talks, citing Tehran's support to the government in Damascus.


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