DAMASCUS: Iran wants Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad to stay on and contest the presidential election scheduled for next year, a visiting senior Iranian envoy said on Monday.
"We think the best scenario is for Mr Assad to remain president of the republic until the summer of 2014," said Aladin Borujerdi, head of parliament's national security and foreign affairs commission.
"After that, free elections will be held and the Syrian people can express themselves and decide on their future," he told a Damascus press conference after a meeting with Iran's ally Assad.
He criticised neighbouring countries which support rebels fighting to oust Assad, charging they were "seeking to deepen dissent and the crisis" in Syria.
Such countries, which he did not name, "must know that this crisis will end sooner or later and then only the bad policies of these states will stay behind in the memory of the Syrian people," said Borujerdi.