Talks with Syrian opposition held in Iran: Majlis speaker
Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said on Tuesday that Iran had held meetings with members of a number of Syrian opposition groups in Iran.
Iranian diplomats had met members of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as Salafis and liberals and encouraged them to accept “democratic reforms through peaceful behavior, not violence,” Larijani told the Financial Times in a rare interview.
According to the report, Larijani did not identify names of opposition members nor the exact dates of the meetings, which he said took place in Iran and were continuing, but said that little progress had been made.
Tehran had previously acknowledged “contact” with the Syrian opposition but had given no details.
Commenting on the initiative put forward by Egypt, according to which a contact group on Syria comprising Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia has been established, Larijani said that it was still early to judge the Cairo initiative.
He added that it was “wrong for some countries to come together and say that person (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) should not be (in power).”
Instead, he argued, Syria’s opposition should be seeking political participation and urging reforms, rather than working for the ouster of the government.
“These groups are Syrian people. They can have political participation in the (reform) process, give their thoughts and provide solutions,” he said.
“But some countries are intervening and are not allowing this to happen. I mean they (opposition groups) are not really left (alone) to make own decisions,” Larijani added.
Progress on finding a solution to the Syrian conflict was also slowed by the absence of a leader who can speak on behalf of the entire opposition, and by the rebels’ multi-layered structure, he stated.
He insisted that Iran had no interest in pulling its regional and western enemies into a protracted conflict in Syria and was not trying to divert attention from its own nuclear program. Nor, he added, was Tehran seeking to use the Syrian crisis as a negotiating tool with the major powers over his country’s nuclear program.
Instead, he blamed western powers as well as “some” regional countries of sending weapons to opposition groups.
Larijani also said that the Syrian people should vote in elections held by the Syrian government under “necessary (international) supervision.”