World Bulletin / News Desk
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on Thursday for "serious and inclusive" talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups, opening a meeting of friendly nations called by Tehran as it seeks to exert its influence over the conflict.
More than 25 nations were present at the conference but significantly none of them back the Syrian opposition or have called for President Bashar al-Assad to leave power.
State television broadcast the opening statement of the talks, which Salehi said were attended by delegations from Russia, China, Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, India, among others.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran firmly believes that the Syrian crisis can only be resolved through serious and inclusive talks between the government and opposition groups that enjoy popular support in Syria," Salehi said at the start of a conference in Tehran to discuss the unrest.
In the speech broadcast live on Iranian television, Salehi said that Iran "rejects any foreign and military intervention in Syrian and backs and supports U.N. efforts to resolve the crisis".
The Syrian government has said it is ready for dialogue but the opposition says Assad must step down as a precursor to any negotiations. Continued hostilities in Aleppo, where the Syrian military is bombarding rebel fighters, make talks unlikely in the near future.
Also present at the Tehran meeting was the United Nations resident coordinator to Tehran, Consuelo Vidal-Bruce, who read out a statement from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
"Both the government and the opposition continued to rely on weapons," the translated statement read, and such actions would have "tragic consequences for the Syrian people".
All parties had a common responsibility to "end the violence and the killing of civilians," the Iranian student news agency reported.
In an opinion piece published by the Washington Post on Wednesday, Salehi warned there would be catastrophic consequences if Assad fell from power.
"Syrian society is a beautiful mosaic of ethnicities, faiths and cultures, and it will be smashed to pieces should President Bashar al-Assad abruptly fall," it read.
Salehi said Iran sought a solution that was in everyone's interest.
More than 120 healthworkers have died during the Ebola outbreak amid shortages of equipment and trained staff in the region
Abdiqadir Mohamed Sidii, governor of Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, said he believed Godane and other senior al Shabaab members had been killed.
Although fighters have been prevented from taking central Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad's forces are worried they will reach it by digging tunnels from the sprawling suburbs and outlying towns under their control.
The soldiers were part of a contingent from Chad, said a U.N. official who asked not to be named.
The UNHCR said the total includes 814,000 Ukrainians now in Russia with various forms of status, as well as compatriots who have fled to Belarus, Moldova, the three Baltic states and European Union.
The doctrine was last updated in 2010, when Russia identified NATO enlargement as a national threat and reaffirmed its right to use nuclear weapons if its existence was endangered.
The Saudi security source said the fire started after a "stray" bullet hit the pipeline after shots were fired at security forces patrolling the oil-rich Eastern Province
The volatile situation in Tripoli has been exacerbated by separate clashes in the eastern port city of Benghazi
Former Israeli army chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi faces charges of breach of trust and passing classified information to an unauthorized source.
Hadi had dismissed the government and planned to cut petrol and diesel prices, partly meeting demands of Houthi protesters who have poured into the capital.
Fifteen more Ukrainian servicemen were killed in fighting in the past 24 hours
The militants launched an attack on the town of Bama, 70 km (45 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri
The discussions with Kerry will focus on establishing "a timeframe for ending Israel's occupation to be agreed as soon as possible and not after the end of this year", said a Palestinian official
President Toomas Hendrik said "yes" when asked at a news conference if he wanted permanent NATO bases in Estonia.
By convening a joint session of parliament, where Sharif has a solid majority, the prime minister seeks to reaffirm that he is fully in control of the situation.
The relatives of soldiers taken by the militant group from Tikrit north of Baghdad had been scheduled to address parliament about the fate of their loved ones