Iran ready to discuss Syria peace 'with any country'

Iran ready to discuss Syria peace 'with any country'
Iran is willing to discuss Syria crisis with rivals President Rouhani said on Tuesday, but he suggested that Tehran would not debate the future of President Assad now.
2 min read
08 September, 2015
President Rouhani says he is looking for solutions to the Syria crisis [Anadolu]

Iran is willing to sit down with any country to discuss the crisis in Syria, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, but hinted that Tehran would not debate the future of President Bashar Assad until peace is achieved. 

The world's attention has once again turned to Syria in recent weeks as tens of thousands of refugees have poured into Europe.

Russia and Iran continue to back Assad while Western countries insist he must go if peace is to be restored. 

"We will sit down at any table with countries inside and outside the region," Rouhani said when asked if Iran would discuss Syria with adversaries Saudi Arabia and the United States. 

"The Syrian people are being killed and losing their homes ... our first priority is to stop the bloodshed, bring security and let people return to their homes, then we can talk about the future," he said. 

Speaking at a joint news conference in Tehran with Austria's President Heinz Fischer, the first European Union leader to visit Iran in more than a decade, Rouhani called on the EU and Middle Eastern powers to find a solution to the Syria crisis.  

"If one day Syria is more secure, that will be in the interest of the whole region and the world," he said.   

Iran's President said democracy was currently not a priority in Syria. 

"Is it a priority to discuss democracy in Syria today?" Rouhani asked. 

"Is it a priority to talk about the opposition and (government) supporters, or reforming the Syrian constitution?" 

Tehran has been the leading supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and accuses Saudi Arabia and the US of siding with anti-Assad rebels and militants.

Iran provides financial and military support to Syria and has military advisers on the ground there.

"Iran will sit at any table with regional countries and world powers if the outcome will be a safer, stable and democratic future for Syria," Rouhani said.  

He says this is part of his nation's commitment to "international, Islamic and humane" norms.

Rouhani is viewed as a liberal-reformist and was one of the main driving forces behing the recent nuclear deal with the US and other world powers. 

The deal helped create a detente between Washington and Tehran after decades of tensions and near hostilities.

However, Rouhani has faced attacks from conservative elements in the government who have been keen to keep a distance between the US and Iran, and to continue to support the Assad government.