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.
A suicide attack targeting a senior Afghan election commission official has killed one guard and injured several others in capital Kabul Saturday. Hawliya Rodwal, Kabul provincial director of the commission, escaped the blast unhurt.
The military has confirmed that an Indonesian ‘expert bomb-maker’ was found among 8 fighters killed in firefight earlier this week
Weapons makers bid to supply new submarines to Australia, after Japan lifts ban that prohibited weapons sales in line with post-WWII pacifistic constitution
Week of Peace events in troubled Philippines south aim to bring different religious communities together, heal rifts of recent years
Police say muezzin has been killed and three worshippers wounded in the shooting, a rare attack on minority Shiite Muslims
Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau says pollutants emitted by vehicles in city will be cut by as much as 30 percent by 2022
Provoking anger and amusement, Taiwanese flag appeared alongside in ISIL propaganda video released listed Taiwan as one of Washington's 'close counterterrorism partners' in Asia-Pacific
China calls for peace and stability after Japan, US agree to continue drills in disputed sea
Minister says violence not the answer as police hunt continues for ISIL militants in mountains of Indonesia's north
Haroon Bhatti, founding member of outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was arrested in Dubai last month and brought back to Pakistan
Muslims in Myanmar have been banned from printing their own calendars, with senior Buddhist monks imploring for stricter sentencing on the publisher and his associates.
PM Abe says Japan to pledge $10.6 billion for climate policies in developing countries
'Tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,' General John Campbell says
Japanese, US officials decide to hold joint exercises in contested sea amid China's maritime expansion
'Seven people - six pilgrims and the lady pilot - died in the crash,' a police official says
Residents rush for open space as tremors shake cities across region