Iranian, Syrian foreign ministers hold phone talks

November 24, 2020 - 0:25

TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke by phone on Sunday with his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad to congratulate him on his appointment as the foreign minister of Syria.

“During the phone call, the top Iranian diplomat congratulated Mekdad on being appointed as the foreign minister of the Syrian Arab Republic. He once again offered condolences on the demise of Walid al-Muallem, the former foreign minister of Syria, and underlined the continuation of strategic cooperation between Tehran and Damascus,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Mekdad was appointed on Sunday as Syria’s foreign minister after the death of the country’s top diplomat Walid al-Muallem. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued presidential decrees appointing Mekdad as foreign minister, Bashar al-Jaafari as deputy foreign minister, and Bassam al-Sabbagh as Syria’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

Iran has expressed sympathy with the people and government of Syria over the passing of al-Muallem. In a message addressed to Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Syrian Arab Republic Hossein Arnous, Zarif expressed condolences on the passing of Foreign Minister Muallem, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday morning.

“I received the news of the passing of the late Walid al-Muallem, Syria’s Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, and with great regret and sadness,” Zarif said in the message, offering his condolences to Arnous, the family of the late foreign minister, and his colleagues in the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

Zarif praised al-Muallem’s role in serving his country, saying that the late foreign minister “played an important role in serving and defending Syria's national interests and security.”

Several other Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution on international affairs, issued a statement offering condolences on the passing of al-Muallem.

On Sunday, the chief Iranian diplomat also met with United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen to discuss the latest developments related to the Syria crisis.

In a statement on Sunday, the Foreign Ministry said in the meeting Iran’s chief diplomat touched upon certain countries' attempts to undermine the trend of the political settlement of Syria issues.  

“Good opportunities emerged in recent years to end the Syria crisis, but each time we saw some countries try to neutralize the attempts made and to ruin those chances,” the statement quoted Zarif as saying.

The Iranian foreign minister also highlighted the necessity of lifting cruel and unfair sanctions against the Syrians, particularly amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Pedersen, in turn, presented a report on the latest status of the Syrian Constitutional Committee as well as his efforts for the committee to hold its next meeting.

Pederson also met with Ali Asghar Khaji, an assistant to the Iranian foreign minister for special political affairs.

During the meeting, Khaji criticized Western countries which did not participate in the International Conference on Return of Syrian Refugees, which took place recently in Damascus, according to Syria’s state news agency SANA.

“The Western countries, which claim to support humanitarian issues, have made political goals, and they tried to hinder the convening of the International Conference on Return of Syrian Refugees.”

SM/PA

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