MIDDLE EAST

Iran, Jordan urge Syria to sit with opposition

Iran’s FM Ali Akbar Salehi (L) and his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, listen to a journalist during a joint news conference in Amman Tuesday. (Reuters)

Iran and Jordan called Tuesday for dialogue between the Syrian regime and “peaceful” opposition groups to end the civil war, with Tehran warning that the repercussions of the conflict will impact the region.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, however, said that such talks must not involve the jihadist Al-Nusra Front which has carried out some spectacular attacks against the Syrian regime.

“We have called for talks between the Syrian government and the peaceful opposition to form a transitional government,” Salehi told a joint news conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, in Amman.

“We have advised the Syrian government to sit with the opposition but not with Al-Nusra.”

Al-Nusra Front has gained notoriety for suicide bombings against Syrian regime targets, but also won admiration from some rebels as a formidable fighting force leading attacks on battlefronts across the strife-torn country.

Salehi, who is expected to travel on to Damascus later on Tuesday, according to an Iranian diplomat source in Syria’s capital, said the Syrian conflict is seen impacting the entire region.

“The repercussions of the Syrian crisis will reflect on neighboring states and other countries,” Salehi said.

“If a vacuum is created, God forbid, the outcome will be unknown. We believe the Syrian crisis must be resolved peacefully.”

He said Iran rejects any outside interference in the Syrian conflict.

“We do not want history to repeat itself. We have seen what such interference did in other countries,” said Salehi but added that Tehran was “helping Syria economically.”

"They have destroyed Syria's infrastructure," he added.

Iran has remained a steadfast ally of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime throughout the Syrian conflict, which the United Nations says has killed more than 70,000 people since it erupted in March 2011.

Tehran sends regular shipment of what it terms as humanitarian aid to Damascus using Iraqi airspace, a move which has prompted Washington to ask Baghdad to inspect such flights.

Judeh, whose country is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, urged “a comprehensive” political solution to the Syrian conflict.

“The bloodshed must end and all segments of the Syrian people must be part of this solution and not part of the conflict,” he said.

Salehi, meanwhile, said Tehran was willing to help Jordan financially to cope with the growing influx of Syrian refugees.

The UNHCR expects the number of refugees in Jordan to soar to 1.2 million by the end of 2013, equivalent to a fifth of the kingdom’s population.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 7 May 2013 KSA 16:55 - GMT 13:55
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