Middle East

Iran says ready to help settle Syria crisis

TEHRAN: Iran is ready to play a role alongside other regional countries to try to establish a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, an official was quoted as saying on Saturday.

"Iran is ready to play an appropriate role in bringing stability and security in Syria" to prevent the crisis "quickly spreading to the whole region," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the Iran newspaper.

Tehran has repeatedly offered to help resolve the crisis, but this has been rejected by Syria's opposition and Western and Arab states which accuse it of militarily aiding President Bashar al-Assad's regime to suppress a rebellion.

In return, Iran has accused some Western and Arab countries of arming Syrian rebel fighters with the aim of toppling the Assad regime.

More than 17,000 people have reportedly been killed in Syria since an uprising erupted since March 2011.

In his remarks published on Saturday, Mehmanparast again criticised "certain regional countries (who) believe that by arming the rebels, they can solve the Syrian crisis."

"Instead of fuelling conflicts and pushing Syria towards a civil war, these countries should use their influence to create a climate of dialogue between the government and the opposition," he added.

He also reaffirmed Tehran's backing of UN-Arab league envoy Kofi Annan's plan aimed at resolving the crisis. Although it has so far failed, the plan remains "the best solution to the Syrian crisis," he said.





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