Ahmadinejad 'not taking sides' in Syria

2013-02-07 15:00
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AP)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (AP)

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Cairo - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called upon Syrian President Bashar Assad and the rebels trying to unseat his regime to negotiate an end to the country's nearly two-year-old conflict.

"We are seeking to halt fighting and violence raging there by bringing both the Syrian regime and opposition to sit together at the negotiating table," Ahmadinejad told Egyptian television in an interview broadcast on Thursday.

Iran, a staunch ally of Damascus, has repeatedly rejected international calls on Assad to step down.

"We are not taking sides in Syria. Our position backs negotiations and allows elections to be the judge," Ahmadinejad added through an interpreter. "The Syrian people are the ones to determine Syria's future."

Syria was at the centre of talks on Wednesday in Cairo between Ahmadinejad and his Egyptian and Turkish counterparts, Mohammed Morsi and Abdullah Gul.

Egypt and Turkey, vociferous critics of Assad, have repeatedly called for him to leave power.

Iran said it backed a proposal by Syria's opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib to negotiate with regime officials to end the conflict, which has claimed the lives of at least 60 000 people, according to UN estimates.

Read more on:    un  |  mahmoud ahmadinejad  |  bashar assad  |  syria  |  middle east peace

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