World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran's supreme leader dismissed Sunday the prospect of foreign countries bartering a deal over Syria's future, saying a halt to fighting and fresh elections is the only solution.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also repeated his ban on direct talks with the United States about turmoil in the Middle East, saying U.S. objectives in the region were utterly at odds with Iranian policy.
The comments, to Iran's ambassadors and other top diplomats, were Khamenei's first since his country joined on Friday international talks in Vienna on the four-year Syrian conflict.
In a wide-ranging speech on foreign policy Khamenei said Syria's people must choose for themselves who their leader would be, rather than U.S. and other foreign powers deciding for them.
"The Americans seek to impose their own interests, not solve problems. They want to impose 60, 70 percent of their will in negotiations. So what's the point of negotiations?" he said, appearing to discount the value of the Vienna talks.
Top diplomats from 17 countries, as well as the United Nations and the European Union, had gathered in Austria to narrow their divisions over Syria's war, which has killed more than 250,000.
For the first time, the meeting brought together all the main outside players in the crisis, including Russia and Iran, key allies of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian regime and the opposition were not represented.
Iran and the U.S. held direct talks in the past two years leading to a deal on the Islamic republic's nuclear programme but after the July 14 agreement Khamenei banned direct talks on regional issues.
"There's no point in other countries getting together and deciding about a system of government and the head of that state," he said Sunday.
"This is a dangerous innovation which no government in the world would accept being imposed on itself. The solution to Syria's problem is elections."
- Taking aim at U.S. -
Khamenei said the military and financial support given to rebels fighting Assad, principally from Gulf states and the U.S., must be stopped.
This would allow an end to the war and ensure "Syrian people elect whomever they want in a safe and peaceful environment," he added, without mentioning Iran's support for Assad.
Iran denies fighting alongside Syrian troops and militias but in recent weeks stepped up its deployment of military advisers. More than a dozen have been killed in the past fortnight.
Khamenei also took aim at wider U.S. policy in the Middle East.
"Contrary to some people's views, America is the main part of the problem in the region, not part of the solution," citing U.S. support for "the Zionist regime" in Israel.
"These policies differ 180 degrees with the policies of the Islamic republic," also criticising Saudi Arabia for its "double standards" in Yemen.
"They have intervened in this country upon a request by a resigned and fugitive Yemeni president," Khamenei said.
"But on Syria they are not prepared to stop supporting the armed opposition upon a request by the legal president (Assad) of this country."Last Mod: 01 Kasım 2015, 16:01