Middle East

Iranian foreign minister to visit Damascus: Syrian official

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi talks during a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammad Kamel Amr and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (not seen) after their first high-level meeting on the Syria conflict on Monday in Cairo late on September 17, 2012. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

DAMASCUS: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi is to arrive on Wednesday in Damascus, where he will meet his counterpart, Walid Muallem and other officials, a Syrian government source said.

His visit comes on the heels a meeting in Cairo of the "contact group" on Syria -- grouping Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- and attended by peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Monday evening.

Tehran, which is closely allied to Damascus, is proposing that the four countries dispatch observers to Syria in an effort to quell the violence.

Salehi told his Egyptian and Turkish counterparts in Cairo that observers from their countries, as well as from Saudi Arabia, could "monitor the process of stopping the violence in Syria," Iran's official IRNA news agency said.

The Iranian top diplomat appealed for "a simultaneous halt in clashes and violence by the sides in Syria, insisted on a peaceful solution without foreign intervention and a halt to financial, military and training support for the Syrian opposition," IRNA reported.

Iran has accused the West and several countries in the region -- notably Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- of providing military and financial assistance to Syrian rebels.

Tehran has systematically denied accusastions that it is providing military aid to Assad's regime.





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