AFP: Iran unequivocally backed its main regional ally Syria Sunday, describing as “unacceptable” the pressure exerted on Damascus through a UN resolution over the murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. by Farhad Pouladi
TEHRAN, Nov 6 (AFP) – Iran unequivocally backed its main regional ally Syria Sunday, describing as “unacceptable” the pressure exerted on Damascus through a UN resolution over the murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
“We support Syria without any doubt. Syria is our friend,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
“The pressure on Syria is unacceptable and is above all motivated by political pressure,” said Asefi.
His comments came after the adoption by the UN Security Council last week of a resolution urging Syria to cooperate fully with the UN probe into the murder of Hariri or face international action.
“We think that this resolution has to be based on reality and cannot be arbitrary,” Asefi said, in Tehran’s first official reaction to the adopted text.
“Just like the Lebanese government and people, and like the Hariri family, we want the criminals to be punished. But the resolutions should not be politicised,” he said.
Iran and Syria, already the target of US sanctions, have both found themselves in the crosshairs of the international community in recent weeks.
Tehran is facing intense pressure over its nuclear programme while Syria has had to confront accusations in a UN report that its security officials were implicated in the Hariri murder.
The two governments both stand accused of supporting the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and interfering in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.
Iran — like Syria — has also received a dressing-down from the UN Security Council, which condemned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comments that Israel should be “wiped off the map”.
Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israeli remarks reinforced fears about Iran’s intentions towards Israel and prompted UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to shelve a November 11-13 visit to Iran.
Asefi said the postponement does “not mean that the visit has been cancelled” and the decision was taken mutually so that the discussions would “take place in a more appropriate climate”.
“Mr Annan has not given up his idea of coming. We would like a delay so he is not under pressure.”
Ahmadinejad had promised his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in August that he would soon visit Damascus to bolster relations between two countries facing “approaching threats.”
Almost alone in the Arab world, Syria took Iran’s side in its devastating 1980-88 war with Iraq, breaking with its fellow Baathist regime in Baghdad and shutting down one of its main oil export outlets.
But despite its long opposition to Saddam Hussein’s regime, Syria declined to support the US-led invasion of 2003 and has faced US accusations ever since of turning a blind eye to anti-US insurgents.