Iran says 'ready to help' end Syria war

Posted at 03/18/2014 8:16 AM | Updated as of 03/18/2014 8:17 AM

TEHRAN - Iran's foreign minister said Monday that Tehran is "ready to help any logical attempts" to end the Syrian conflict, during a visit by UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

Brahimi was in Tehran for the second day of talks with Iranian officials about ending the conflict in Syria, a key regional ally of Iran.

Shiite Iran has been a staunch supporter of President Bashar al-Assad's regime in its struggle against mostly Sunni rebels backed by Western powers and Arab nations.

"Iran is ready to help any logical attempts which are based on the realities of Syria, particularly those efforts made by the United Nations (which) are being pursued by Lakhdar Brahimi," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by official news agency IRNA.

"Without being affected by the pressures of some countries, the UN should play its independent role and continue its attempts to resolve the crisis," he added.

Brahimi said addressing the crisis in Syria would "affect the security and stability of the whole region," IRNA reported.

The envoy's visit came as Syrian troops, backed by Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, were preparing to launch a fresh offensive north of Damascus after taking the rebel stronghold of Yabrud on Sunday.

Tehran has been accused of supplying Damascus with military and financial backing, despite repeatedly denying it has an official military presence in Syria. The Iranian authorities say their backing takes the form of humanitarian aid.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week called on Russia and Iran to encourage Syria to resume peace talks after the failure of the so-called Geneva II process earlier this year.

Tehran was excluded from the talks after Ban reversed a last-minute invitation when Syria's opposition said it would boycott if Iran took part.

The United States and other Western nations say Iran must first support a June 2012 declaration by the major powers calling for a transitional government in Syria before it can play a frontline role in peace talks.

Iran refuses to consent to a transitional government, saying that "the best solution is to organise free and fair elections inside Syria."

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