|Annan says Iran will support democratic solution to Syria crisis||
TEHRAN - Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said on Thursday that Iran has told him that it would support a democratic solution to the Syria crisis.
Annan, who served until August as the UN-Arab League special envoy on Syria, said that he sensed support for a democratic solution in Syria when he visited Tehran in July and met with three top Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, AFP reported.
“They all had the same message when I pushed them – that… we accept that Assad may have to go, but the Syrian people should be allowed to decide through elections, even if it’s organized under UN authority,” Annan said.
“One choice phrase they gave me is that ‘democracy is a solution, democracy is the answer in Syria,’” Annan said at the Brookings Institution, a think tank.
President Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Iran believes free elections are the right way to help resolve the 19-month-old conflict in Syria.
“Anyone who is the friend of the Syrian people should try to form the basis for free elections in the country,” Ahmadinejad told reporters after an Asian summit in Kuwait.
Annan says Iran backs democratic elections in Bahrain
Annan also stated that the Iranian leaders did not limit calls for democracy to Syria but also made clear they would push for a similar path in Bahrain.
Foreign weapons fueling conflict in Syria
Annan renewed his call for a peaceful solution to the crisis and warned that foreign weapons were only fueling a conflict said to have claimed more than 34,000 lives.
Iran has denied U.S. charges that it has shipped arms to Syria.
The United States has said that it is only providing non-lethal support to Syria’s opposition but Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been widely reported to have sent weapons to rebels.
Annan denounced arms shipments, saying that Syria was “almost into a sectarian war” that could spread beyond the region.
“I have said in the past that Syria, unlike Libya, will not implode but is likely to explode -- and explode beyond its borders,” Annan said.
“Some governments have made the calculation that the fastest way to end the conflict in Syria is to arm one side or the other to have total victory over the other side,” he said.
“It’s not going to happen. They’re only going to get more people killed,” he said.
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