Iran on Monday sent its deputy foreign minister to Cairo to participate in a "contact group" meeting that sought ways to calm the 18-month crisis in Syria, MNA reported.
Delegations from Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia "will meet today... in a bid to confront the deteriorating situation in Syria and put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and an end to the bloodshed through a political process," the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The ministry stated that Cairo would seek agreement on several points, including stopping violence, ensuring Syria's territorial unity, rejecting any foreign military intervention, and launching a political process to achieve the Syrian people's "aspirations for democracy, freedom, and dignity."
The meeting was the first of a regional contact group on Syria proposed by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi at an August summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Saudi Arabia.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in an interview with Al-Alam News Network published on Monday, "Iran's participation in this meeting is within the framework of solving the Syrian crisis and listening to the Egyptian proposal. Iran will use this opportunity to provide its views, in addition to those of the other countries to this group."
Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has said that Iran wanted to see the contact group expanded to give it "better balance," suggesting Iraq as a new member, AFP reported on Monday.
According to Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, the meeting gathered senior Foreign Ministry officials from the four nations to prepare for higher-ranking talks, Reuters reported.
He told reporters that a meeting of foreign ministers would take place in Cairo in the "coming days," but did not give a date.
Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs who represented Iran at the meeting, told ISNA on Sunday that Tehran backed Morsi's contact group proposal.
"Iran in general backs the political ideas proposed by Mr. Morsi as a rational political solution," Amir-Abdollahian said.
However, he stated, "We expect Mr. Morsi... (to) reflect more before making some comments."
Morsi "should not take sides" and should "deal with the Syrian issue realistically," Amir-Abdollahian added.
The new international envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian president and Arab League officials before he is expected to head to Damascus on his first official trip to the region.