Iran urges Qatar's new emir to revise Syria policy

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2013 5:10 AM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Wednesday urged Qatar's new Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to revise his country's policy of backing Syrian rebel groups.

"Hopefully Sheikh Tamim will contemplate the Syrian issue and regarding past policies, he will make a serious revision so we will be able to ... join hands and tackle the Syrian crisis," Salehi told a news conference in Tehran, broadcast by Press TV.

"Given this power transfer that has happened in Qatar, we are hopeful that Qatar will enter a new era in its international interactions both with regional countries and others," he said.

Shi'ite Iran has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his forces since the beginning of the crisis in 2011. It accuses Sunni Gulf states Qatar and Saudi Arabia of arming what Assad describes as "terrorist" groups.

Iran says the removal of Assad would lead to a dangerous power vacuum and that any solution for Syria should be made by the people themselves and not imposed from the outside.

But backers of opposition rebels accuse Iran of hypocrisy, saying it has provided billions of dollars of financial and military support for Assad.

(Reporting by Marcus George; Editing by Jon Hemming and Janet Lawrence)