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Larijani reiterates support for Syria dialogue

Larijani meets Berri in Beirut. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani reiterated Friday his country’s support for dialogue as the only means to resolve the crisis in Syria and said that the prospects of an Israeli attack against Iran have diminished following the Jewish state’s setback in Gaza.

“We support democratic reforms in this country [Syria], but the difference between us and others regarding the Syrian situation is that others want to impose democracy through arms,” Larijani told a news conference in Beirut, where he arrived after holding talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

“But we cannot accept or support this method. I don’t think that a human being can implement democracy through rocket propelled grenades,” he said.

In reference to some Arab countries who are said to be providing arms to Syrian rebels, Larijani said “sides sending arms to fuel internal fighting in Syria aim at dealing a blow to defiance and resistance against Israel ... Syria has pioneered the confrontation with Israel.”

Larijani said that Turkey’s request earlier this week for NATO to deploy Patriot defense missiles near its borders with Syria does not contribute to resolving the crisis in Syria.

“The internal Syrian crisis cannot be resolved through deploying weapons like these,” said Larijani, who will fly to Turkey from Beirut Saturday.

“As you know we have a difference in opinion with our Turkish friends on the methods that should be used to [resolve] the Syrian crisis,” he said.

“Through these meetings and through political activity, we are working to reduce our differences regarding the situation in Syria,” he said.

Larijani said Tehran supports dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition, calling it the only means to solve the crisis in the country, where there has been an uprising against Assad for the past 20 months.

He added that Iran is negotiating with various countries in the region on how to achieve dialogue, saying he discussed the issue with Assad.

Commenting on Turkey’s demand for Assad to step down, Larijani said that an external side should not set preconditions to end Syria’s turmoil.

“If we really want democracy to prevail in this country, then it should be reached through the ballot box,” he said.

Turning his focus to the conflict in Gaza, Larijani said that Israel’s setback has diminished the prospects of an Israeli attack against Iran.

“The Zionist entity was broken in this battle which it waged against Gaza Strip, so how could it wage a war against the Islamic Republic of Iran?,” Larijani said.

Larijani said that Iran has fulfilled its “responsibility toward the Palestinian people,” unlike other countries who failed to condemn Israel, condemned Israel only verbally or acted as mediators.

“If those who say they supported the Palestinian people reveal publicly the arms they provided them, then we will tip our hats to them,” he said.

Some Palestinian factions in Gaza said they received rockets from Iran.

Larijani said his visit to Lebanon was not aimed at sending a direct message to the country’s officials, but to carry out consultations with Lebanese statesmen.

“We have a fixed position, which is supporting national unity among the Lebanese people and I believe that political leaders in Lebanon have enough prudence to solve ... internal issues,” he said.

“Maybe there are some willing to destabilize the political situation in Lebanon, but fortunately, they are not able to achieve their aims,” he said.

Asked about accusations against Iran that its provision of arms and money to Hezbollah are part of an expansionist plan in the region that exacerbates divisions in Lebanon, particularly as Hezbollah no longer enjoys unanimous support in the country, Larijani said that even during Israel’s 2006 war against Lebanon, some Lebanese groups were against resistance.

“The resistance confronted the Israeli enemy [back then] and forced it to withdraw, but despite this, some Lebanese groups were opposing resistance back then.”

Prior to the news conference, Larijani held talks with Speaker Nabih Berri.

Earlier Friday, Larijani congratulated Palestinian factions for their “victory” against Israel in Gaza.

“Victory in Gaza is a victory for all Palestinians and resistance groups and is a victory that thrilled Iran,” he said, addressing representatives of Palestinian factions in Lebanon during a meeting at Golden Tulip hotel in Beirut.

Attending were Ali Barakeh, Hamas’s representative in Lebanon, Islamic Jihad official in Lebanon Abu Imad Rifai, Fathi Abu al-Ardat, the secretary-general of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization along with representatives of other Palestinian factions in Lebanon.

“Be confident that embracing the Palestinian people and its legitimate and just cause are at the core of the set strategic policy of the Islamic revolution and the Islamic Republic,” he said.

Larijani also met representatives of some pro-Damascus Palestinian factions during his visit to Syria.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 24, 2012, on page 1.

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