Iran hosts meeting on Syrian conflict

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 18, 2012 4:35 PM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran, the closest ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, hosted a conference in Tehran on Sunday to seek a resolution to the civil war in Syria.

Iranian officials said about 200 Syrian "political characters" had participated but there was no indication that the Syrian National Coalition, a new umbrella opposition group led by Sunni Muslim cleric Mouaz Alkhatib, had attended.

Iran has strongly supported Assad and has accused Western and Arab nations of fomenting violence in Syria by arming opposition groups. In turn, Syria's mostly Sunni Muslim rebels accuse Tehran of sending military personnel to Syria and of providing light arms, as well as tactical and communications expertise to Syrian government forces.

Addressing the conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said arming opposition groups with heavy weapons would put the region at risk of "organised terrorism".

"Iran has repeatedly emphasized that it wants a peaceful Syrian-Syrian solution for the current crisis without the interference of foreigners...The Syrians themselves know better what is best for them," Salehi said.

(Reporting by Zahra Hosseinian; Editing by Stephen Powell)