AFP: A top Syrian official on Sunday reassured Iran that Syria’s attendance at a US-hosted Middle East peace conference would not harm relations between the two allies, the state news agency IRNA reported. TEHRAN (AFP) A top Syrian official on Sunday reassured Iran that Syria’s attendance at a US-hosted Middle East peace conference would not harm relations between the two allies, the state news agency IRNA reported.
For his part, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the visiting official that “enemies” could not damage ties between Tehran and Damascus.
Iran had expressed frustration over the attendance of Saudi Arabia and top regional ally Syria at the conference last Tuesday in Annapolis, Maryland that sought to jump-start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Syria will not let anyone harm the two countries’ close and solid ties, even in the slightest way,” Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.
“It was evident that the Annapolis meeting will not have any positive or clear outcome,” Ahmadinejad later told Mekdad in a separate meeting, according to the ISNA news agency.
“We should be alert that during the last days of his administration, (US President) George (W.) Bush should not be able to get more concessions from the Palestinians,” he said.
Ahmadinejad had angrily dismissed the conference as useless, saying the aim of the meeting was to bolster Iran’s arch-enemy Israel at the expense of the Palestinians.
Mekdad himself represented Syria at the conference, after Damascus agreed at the last minute to take part.
Syria had made its presence conditional on the inclusion of the issue of the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967, on the agenda of the conference.
Mekdad expressed his satisfaction with the talks, in a statement released last week by the Syrian embassy in Washington.
“Despite all the difficulties and differing opinions on this conference in Annapolis, Syria hopes that our meeting today will constitute a point of departure for a peace process,” Mekdad said.
Iran has made non-recognition of Israel one of its main ideological themes and was left isolated by the broad Arab presence at the conference.
“The United States and Israel are making a show of holding the Annapolis conference but at the same time they present the corpses of the oppressed Palestinians to their families,” Mottaki was quoted as saying.
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly courted controversy by predicting Israel is doomed to disappear, most notoriously calling in 2005 for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map”.