Middle East

Syria seeks to bolster Iran ties after Rowhani win: PM

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi talks to media in Damascus April 29, 2013, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA. REUTERS/SANA/Handout

DAMASCUS: Syria will seek to expand its relations with close ally Iran after moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani's presidential election victory, Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said on Sunday.

"Syria wishes to further expand its relations with the new Iranian leadership," Halqi said as he received a high-level Iranian economic delegation in Damascus, state news agency SANA said.

Halqi praised "the strength of strategic and stable relations between Syria and Iran on different levels," as he met a delegation headed by Hassan Kazemi Qomi, an economic adviser at Iran's foreign ministry.

"We congratulate Iran's people and leadership for the great success of the Iranian presidential elections," he added, calling the vote "a sincere expression of real democracy" that "showed the unity of the Iranian people with their political and spiritual leaders".

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, staunchly backing his embattled government against an uprising now in its third year.

Despite itself suffering the effects of international sanctions targeting its uranium enrichment programme, Iran has offered Syria loans to help it weather the financial crisis caused by the conflict.

The Syrian opposition accuses Iran of providing Damascus with weapons and encouraging Lebanon's Hezbollah group, which relies on Tehran for support, to dispatch fighters to Syria.





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