Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks during a press conference on March 2, 2013 in Tehran
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks during a press conference on March 2, 2013 in Tehran. Salehi, whose country is one of Syria's closest allies, held talks with President Bashar al-Assad on a previously unannounced visit to Damascus on Tuesday, an Iranian diplomatic source said. © Atta Kenare - AFP/File
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks during a press conference on March 2, 2013 in Tehran
AFP
Last updated: May 7, 2013

Iranian foreign minister meets Assad

Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday and said it was time to dissuade Israel from carrying out attacks such as its air strikes on Syria over the past week.

"The time has come to dissuade the Israeli occupier from carrying out such aggression against the peoples of the region," he said, quoted by Syrian television after his arrival in Damascus on a previously unannounced visit.

"Iran stands at the side of Syria in the face of Israeli aggression, whose aim is to damage the security of the region and weaken the axis of resistance," said Salehi, whose country is a close ally of Damascus.

The visit follows Israeli raids on Friday and Sunday against military targets near Damascus, including sites which Israeli sources said held arms from Iran bound for its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon, a claim denied by Tehran.

Assad, also quoted on state television, said the Israeli attacks were clear proof of "the implication of Israel and regional and Western countries" in the armed revolt in Syria.

And at a joint press conference with Salehi, his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem said: "We have now been at war for two years. We are not afraid and we will not remain silent in the face of aggression."

In the Jordanian capital earlier on Tuesday, Iran's top diplomat called for dialogue between the Syrian regime and "peaceful" opposition groups, warning that the impact of the conflict would affect the entire region.

Iran has condemned the Israeli strikes and said it is ready to train the Syrian army, which is in its third year of a conflict against rebels seeking to overthrow Assad.

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