Iran plans to host meeting on Syria

DUBAI Mon Aug 6, 2012 4:02pm BST

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, plans to host a meeting of regional and other countries this week on ways to resolve the country's conflict, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

However, only countries with a "realistic" stance on the conflict will be invited to the meeting on Thursday, IRNA quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying.

The report did not say which countries would be involved but without Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom back the opposition to Assad, it is unlikely to have a significant result.

The aim is to find "ways out of the current crisis, the return of stability and calm to that country and also supporting all constructive regional and international efforts", Abdollahian said.

Shi'ite Muslim Iran has steadfastly supported Assad in his struggle to crush the 17-month-old rebellion against his rule, although it had backed other uprisings which removed leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Syria and Iran have accused Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia of backing rebels in Syria and fuelling violence there.

The Iranian armed forces chief Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi warned the three countries against helping Washington's "war-raging goals" in Syria.

"Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are responsible for the blood that is being spilled in Syria," he said in comments published on the Revolutionary Guards' website.

"It is not the right basis for Syria's neighbouring countries to help the war-raging goals of America. If that is the basis...they should know that next, it will be Turkey's and other countries' turn," Firouzabadi said.

Iranian leaders have accused the West of plotting with Arab countries to overthrow the Syrian leadership and bolster the status of Israel in the region by backing extremist militant groups.

Last month, Iran said it was ready to host talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups, an offer rejected by members of the Syrian opposition.

(Writing by Zahra Hosseinian, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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