I am not mediator in Iran nuclear dispute, - syrian president

Other News Materials 3 August 2008 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

Visiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, winding up a two-day visit to Tehran, insisted Sunday that he was performing no role as a mediator in the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities, dpa reported.

At a press conference together with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, al-Assad was countering some media reports suggesting that he was to try to mediate with Iran in the nuclear standoff.

The Syrian leaders said he was "not a mediator and not carrying a message from any Western official" to Tehran.

Last month, al-Assad had visited France and met with President Nicolas Sarkozy. The Syrian president at the time told reporters that Sarkozy had asked him to try help ease Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West.

At the press conference, Ahmedinejad reiterated his country's stance insisting on recognition of its right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, while saying Tehran wanted "serious" talks on the issue.

"We are serious in talks and we want talks based on the law which will bear practical results," he was quoted by the official news agency IRNA as saying.

"So we hope that other sides are serious as well," Ahmadinejad added.

Referring to the July 19 talks in Geneva between Iran and the five UN Security Council members plus Germany, the Iranian president commented, "we submitted a proposed package to Western countries and they submitted their own package of proposals to us.

"For some time now we have said that we are always ready to negotiate, to talk, but the issues that need to be discussed are numerous," he told the news conference.

The remarks came a day after a reported deadline which Tehran so far has not yet met in replying to the latest proposal by the world powers to try to resolve the nuclear dispute.

"The Iranian nation would not retreat one iota from its rights in this regard," Iranian media quoted Ahmadinejad as telling al-Assad.

On Saturday, two weeks after the meeting in Geneva, EU diplomats in Brussels pointed out that no specific deadline had been set for Tehran to respond.

At the time EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had said the EU was expecting a "clear answer" from Tehran "in about two weeks' time."

The EU diplomats said that Iran's answer may possibly be coming on Monday.

The offer on the table is for far-reaching economic cooperation with Iran, including in the field of civilian-sector nuclear power, in return for a pledge by Tehran to refrain from uranium enrichment activities.