The rapid rise of the Islamic State group has effectively bound the Ayatollahs and the Assad regime
Iran’s president has said his country is ready to hold talks with the United States and Saudi Arabia on ways to resolve the Syrian civil war.
Shia powerhouse Iran is a leading patron of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and accuses Sunni rival Saudi Arabia and the US of siding with anti-Assad rebels and fighters.
President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks came during a press conference on Tuesday in Tehran with visiting Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer.
Rouhani said: “Iran will sit at any table with regional countries and world powers if the outcome will be a safer, stable and democratic future for Syria.”
He said this is part of his nation’s commitment to “international, Islamic and humane” norms.
Iran has always criticised Western and Gulf nations’ efforts to topple the regime of President Assad that is battling a four-year-old rebellion.
Tehran has provided the Syrian army with financial and logistical support throughout the conflict, which has so far killed more than 240,000 people.
Fischer’s visit on Tuesday follows the signing in July of a landmark accord between Iran and world powers on its disputed nuclear programme, after talks held in Austria.
He was also due to meet Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later, a rare event for a Western official.
The long-awaited nuclear deal – signed with Russia, France, Britain, China, Germany and the US – has cleared a path to lift sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy, and should reopen channels for foreign investment in oil and gas-rich Iran.
Neutral Austria, which has long had good relations with Iran, is hoping for a five-fold increase in exports to the Islamic republic, according to the Austrian chamber of commerce.