Iran hosts meeting on Syrian conflict

 

Tehran

Under the motto "No to violence, yes to democracy," an estimated 200 Syrian and regional politicians gathered in Tehran on Sunday to discuss a possible end to the violence that has engulfed Syria since March 2011.

"We believe reforms in Syria should lead to a free, fair and transparent election with the cooperation of all political parties," Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in opening remarks at the one-day Syrian National Dialogue conference.

Iran continues to back Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime despite the bloodshed, which has killed more than 40,000 people since the fighting began, making Western and many Arab governments doubt the Islamic republic's sincerity in trying to end the violence. But the presence of delegations from dozens of countries, including representatives of Russia and China, two key Syrian allies, indicate that Iran is seen as able to wield influence in the matter.

Leaders in Tehran have long contended that they support a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict and can play a positive role in engineering a lasting cease-fire there.

Salehi warned that arming the opposition in Syria would "spread insecurity, the risk of terrorism and increase organized violence" and would heighten the risk "of bloodshed spilling into other countries."

Meanwhile, the newly formed National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and its head, Mouaz al-Khatib, continue to gain supporters since forming at a meeting last week in Doha, Qatar.

France and Turkey have recognized the coalition as a legitimate government in exile, and Britain is considering whether to formally recognize the group.

The Tehran conference, viewed by some as a response to the Doha gathering, included representatives from across Syria's ethnic and religious spectrum, but none identified themselves as specifically in opposition to the Syrian regime. Among them were Assad loyalists and government officials, including National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar and Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil.

"Ending clashes, preventing the shipment of weapons to Syria, avoiding interference by foreign countries, resuming national dialogue, forming a committee to meet the expectations of the Syrian people by parliamentary and presidential elections and changes in the constitution are all aspects of Iran's political plan in Syria," said Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast.

Noting the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip, many participants spoke about the urgent need for regional stability.

Former Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jafari called for a Syrian solution rather than resorting to foreign intervention, saying, "We all must respect people's dignity in Syria and prevent war and violence in Syria from spreading to the whole region."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all