TEHRAN, Aug. 8 (MNA) -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei called for the expansion of Iran-Syria ties in a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad here on Monday.

The Supreme Leader described Tehran-Damascus relations as stable and said that Assad’s trip to Iran could help strengthen bilateral ties.


For his part, the Syrian president called Iran’s recent presidential election a sign of national unity and a clear message from the Iranian nation to the West, particularly the United States.


Elaborating on his viewpoints on regional developments, Assad stressed that Syria is firm in its policy to expand ties with Iraq and help establish peace and security in that country.


Assad arrived in Tehran Sunday heading a high-ranking delegation for an official two-day visit just one day after President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s official inauguration.


Rafsanjani calls for serious regional cooperation between Iran and Syria


Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Monday that Iran and Syria should cooperate seriously in view of the sensitive regional situation.


In a meeting with Assad, Rafsanjani noted that Tehran and Damascus can play an effective role in alleviating the pain of the Iraqi nation.


“The accusations against Iran and Syria concerning Iraq are meant to prevent the two countries from developing ties with the Iraqi nation and government,” he said in reference to U.S. accusations that Iran and Syria are not making serious efforts to prevent insurgents from crossing their borders to enter Iraq.


Rafsanjani stated that the Palestine issue is very important for the Islamic world, adding that defenders of the Zionist regime should realize this. 


He went on to say that Syria’s effective presence in Lebanon prevented foreign interference in the country’s affairs.


“Constructive cooperation between Iran, Syria, and the Lebanese Hezbollah will benefit the Islamic world and prevent the violation of the Iraqi and Palestinian nations’ rights.”


On the nuclear issue, Rafsanjani said that the Islamic Republic is determined to defend its right to make use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


“Iran is very serious in its decision to resume work at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility, and we hope the Western states will act realistically toward this issue.”


Assad said that Syria would continue its cooperation with Iran while continuing to play an effective role in the region.


He also invited the EC chairman to pay a visit to Syria, and Rafsanjani promised to do so at the first opportunity.


Shamkhani, Assad discuss defense cooperation


Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani also met and held talks with the Syrian president on Monday.


Cooperation in the spheres of defense and international security was a high priority topic of the talks, according to the Defense Ministry Publicity Department.


Speaking at the meeting, Shamkhani referred to Syria's resistance to the Zionist regime as a general model applicable to the Islamic world and stressed that Muslim countries, including Iran, would back up Damascus.


The defense minister noted, "Regional cooperation is the best strategy for dealing with the expansionistic policies of Zionists and extra-regional powers."


Assad referred to the positive trend of defense cooperation between the two countries and announced Syria’s interest in making use of Iran's successful experiences in the defense industries.


Iran, Syria discuss bilateral, regional developments


Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi called the Syrian president’s trip to Tehran "very important" at this sensitive juncture.


In a meeting with Assad on Monday, Kharrazi said, “Recent developments in Lebanon, particularly the vigilance and solidarity of the Lebanese nation and groups in the face of various events and the country’s parliamentary elections, are signs of new political achievements for the Lebanese Islamic resistance.”


Turning to Iraq, the foreign minister said that the Islamic Republic has always followed the strategy of respecting the Iraqi people's right to run their own affairs and believes that the establishment of a legal framework based on the nation's will is the real solution to the ongoing crises.


Kharrazi stated that the Zionist regime’s continued brutality will not have any impact on the Palestinians' determination to regain their inalienable rights.


The Syrian president said Iran's principled stances on various regional and international developments prove the country's dignity and determination to pursue strategic goals and issues.


Iran determined to expand ties with Syria: Ahmadinejad


Official talks were held between high-ranking Syrian and Iranian officials earlier on Sunday.


During the talks, Iranian President Ahmadinejad expressed hope that Assad’s trip to Iran would positively influence bilateral economic, political, and social ties.


Stressing the necessity for the expansion of ties between regional Islamic states, he noted that Iran welcomes cooperation with Syria and Iraq.


“Cooperation between Iran, Syria, and Iraq will greatly benefit regional nations,” Ahmadinejad said. 


Assad referred to the strong ties between Tehran and Damascus in recent years and expressed hope that bilateral relations would expand during Ahmadinejad’s presidency.


Syria is interested in expanding ties with Iran in all fields, he added.


Prior to the two presidents’ remarks, Ali Abdul Alizadeh, the chairman of the Iran-Syria Joint Committee, presented a report on the trend of economic ties between the two countries.


After the Syrian president’s departure later on Monday, Ahmadinejad called for the strengthening of bilateral ties in order to better defend themselves against the countries’ common "enemies".


"The consolidation of fraternal bonds between the two countries is important for the safety of the region and makes our enemies angry," he observed.


The new Iranian president said the two sides discussed bilateral relations, regional issues, and Iranian oil exports to Syria.






News Code 12380

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