Russia underlines Iran's major role in resolving Syrian crisis
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov stressed Iran's vital role and influence in resolving regional issues, and said Tehran as a regional powerhouse should be included in a contact group to put an end to the Syrian crisis, FNA reported.
Gatilov said that Russia supports UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan's proposal of setting up an international contact group to bring together key global and regional players to help put an early end to the 16- month Syrian crisis.
The senior diplomat noted that such a group should include members of the UN Security Council, as well as regional states, " primarily those bordering Syria and having their own interests in this region".
A country like Iran "has a full right" to participate in the process, said Gatilov. "Iran's participation could play a constructive role in searching for solutions to the Syrian conflict," he asserted.
Gatilov urged the western powers to avoid military intervention in Syria, warning that use of force would only deteriorate the situation in the Middle East country.
"Obviously, imposing restrictive or forcible measures will not help, but only worsen the already complicated situation in this country," Gatilov told Interfax on Friday.
He stressed that Moscow rejects any additional pressure and sanctions or the use of force against Syria, urging all countries with influence over both the Syrian government and opposition to join efforts to facilitate a political settlement to the current crisis in line with Annan's peace plan.
Annan once again reiterated Iran's regional clout, and said Tehran is a major part of any "solution" to the Syrian conflict.
"Iran, as an important country in the region, I hope will be part of the solution," Annan told reporters as he discussed the countries that could take part in a new international Contact Group on Syria.
Annan said discussions are at an "early stage" on bringing key world and regional powers into a contact group on the Syrian crisis.
But US Ambassador Susan Rice voiced strong opposition to Iran's involvement in Syria.
Annan's comments followed an hours-long closed door session of the UN Security Council during which the international envoy briefed the Council on the progress of his six-point peace plan to end the violence in Syria. So far the plan, agreed to by Syria, has yet to be implemented as Saudi and Qatari-backed terrorists have violated all its terms several times.