Syrian President Bashar Assad should back away from his violent crackdown on protesters and enter talks with the opposition, Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday.
"There should be talks" between the Syrian government and its opponents, Ahmadinejad said in a live interview in Tehran with Portuguese broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa.
"A military solution is never the right solution," Ahmadinejad said, according to a simultaneous Portuguese translation of his comments.
"We believe that freedom and justice and respect for others are the rights of all nations. All governments have to recognize these rights," he said. "Problems have to be dealt with through dialogue."
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said last month that Assad should answer the legitimate demands of his people.
"Other countries in the region can help the Syrian government and people to talk to each other with a view to resolving their differences and introducing the reforms that are needed," Ahmadinejad said.
Iran, Damascus' chief ally, has blamed the U.S. and Israel for instigating more than five months of protests in Syria.
The U.S. and other nations have accused Iran of helping Assad crush the uprising.
"Other countries have no right to interfere in ... domestic discussions," Ahmadinejad said, citing NATO's intervention in Libya as an example of misguided actions.