Iran-Syria ties entered ‘strategic phase’: spokesman

October 11, 2021 - 21:56

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh has praised Tehran-Damascus ties, noting that they have been elevated to a strategic level. 

Speaking at a weekly press briefing, the spokesman offered details about the recent visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Hossein Abdollahian to Syria where he met with several high-ranking Syrian leaders including President Bashar Assad. 

Khatibzadeh rejected some media reports about Lebanon refusing to provide fuel to the Iranian plane carrying Abdollahian during his visit to Syria and Lebanon. He said these reports are false and the visit was pre-planned. “Some people do not like these trips to be successful and they create these red herrings. There has been no request for refueling in Lebanon,” Khatibzadeh said.

Abdollahian visited Damascus on Saturday as part of his regional tour that included Lebanon. The Iranian foreign minister met with the Syrian President at the presidential palace to discuss developments in bilateral relations, regional developments, and international issues.

Commenting on the visit, Khatibzadeh said Iran-Syria relations have been upgraded to an important level. “Iran-Syria relations have entered a strategic phase. The dimensions of Iran-Syria relations are different, and the nature of strategic relations requires that these relations be established in all dimensions, including economic, cultural, military, and so on,” he said. 

Khatibzadeh added, “Our private sector had an exhibition in Syria some time ago, and now it is demanding that their agreements be implemented in various dimensions. A special mission has been given to the ambassador and this trip has had a special focus on this issue.”

During their Saturday meeting, Abdollahian and Assad stressed the need to strengthen and deepen relations between the two countries, according to the Iranian foreign ministry. 

They also exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria.
The Iranian foreign minister called the extensive contacts between the high-ranking officials of Iran and Syria an indicator of the depth of relations and congratulated Damascus on its political, international, and field victories.

He also said that the diplomatic atmosphere in the recent UN General Assembly meetings indicated that the situation has changed in Syria's favor.

Abdollahian explained the policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran towards the developments in Afghanistan. He said, “We are in contact with all parties in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, and we invite them to form a comprehensive government.”

During the meeting, the Syrian president stated that in the short time that has passed since his previous meeting with the Iranian foreign minister, many changes have taken place “that have benefited all of us.”

Assad noted that Syria managed to hold a presidential election successfully.

He added that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan marks the emergence of new axes and the decline of the Western axis.

According to the Syrian president, regional countries and Afghanistan’s neighbors know that the United States does not accept responsibility for its actions and policies in Afghanistan.

Assad also said the Islamic Republic of Iran has this capacity and in order for Afghanistan to succeed, Iran must enter into negotiations with its neighbors and other players, because the Americans want to sow discord between Afghanistan's neighbors.

Assad also said, “We are interacting with Syria’s Constitutional Committee in line with Syria's national interests, and not as a result of foreign interference and the imposition of foreign countries’ views.”

Regarding the developments in Idlib, he stressed the end of the occupation and the return of all occupied territories to Syria.

Abdollahian also referred to the pragmatism of the new government in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The foreign minister said that Iran has a plan for sustainable economic development, which will pursue it even in the event of the continuation of oppressive sanctions against Iran.

On the Vienna talks, Abdollahian said Iran will return to the negotiating table soon, and it will consider the issue of verification and receiving the necessary guarantees for the fulfillment of the obligations of the Western parties.

According to the Iranian foreign minister, if the talks are concluded, Iran will use them to accelerate the implementation of its development plan, but it will not tie its development plan to the talks.

Abdollahian had paid a visit to Lebanon before heading to Syria. In Beirut, he met many Lebanese leaders including Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Foreign Minister Abdollah Bu Habib.

Abdollahian and Aoun discussed Iran-Lebanon ties and regional developments. The Iranian foreign minister congratulated Aoun on the formation of Lebanon’s new government. He also reaffirmed Iran’s strong backing for Lebanon, saying Tehran is ready to give all-out support for Beirut. The Lebanese president said both the people and the government of Lebanon view Iran as their friend and that “we always feel Iran’s support at our disposal.”

Aoun also described talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia as important and said good ties between them will make Lebanon happy and will strengthen peace in the region.

“Iran Saudi talks have entered more serious stage”

Iran and Saudi Arabia have been holding talks over the last few months. Khatibzadeh said these talks have entered a “more serious” stage.

“The talks are moving in a more serious direction. The roadmap is under discussion. Iran has always pursued its policy and believes that talks between regional actors and Iran and Saudi Arabia can be one of the pillars of peace and stability in the Persian Gulf region,” the spokesman noted. 

Regarding Lebanon, Khatibzadeh reiterated Iran’s readiness to help Lebanon with the electricity crisis. He pointed out that one solution to Lebanon’s electricity crisis is to build inland power stations and Iran is ready to help in that regard. “One of the ways is to build ground power plants inside Lebanon, and Iran can help with all its technical capacity to build power plants, and this readiness of Iran must be accompanied by the will of the Lebanese government and groups,” he said. 

Earlier, Abdollahian had also expressed Iran’s readiness to help Lebanon cope with its electricity crisis. The Iranian foreign minister also referred to the Islamic Republic’s engineering and technical capabilities, saying Tehran is ready to have a strong presence in Lebanon’s development projects, most notably in the construction of power plants. Abdollahian said Iranian companies can take part in these projects with their world-class know-how.

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