(Reuters) – New U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi will visit Iran, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, after a fact-finding trip to Syria itself, an official in the Iranian Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Brahimi, a veteran Algerian diplomat, succeeded Kofi Annan as envoy this month and has said he would talk to Iran as he tries to push forward with his difficult quest to end the 17-month-old conflict in Syria.
In Geneva, Brahimi’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told Reuters that the U.N. envoy planned to visit Syria soon but there were no plans for travel to Iran.
Brahimi was in Cairo on Sunday for three days of talks with the Arab League and Egyptian officials.
Iran’s Mehr news agency quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying Brahimi would visit Tehran, following a phone conversation Brahimi had conducted on Saturday evening with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
“It is planned for Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.’s envoy to Syria, to travel to Tehran,” Araqchi said.
Iran has remained loyal to Assad as he has tried to put down an uprising against his family’s 42-year rule. Tehran accuses regional states like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey of assisting Syrian rebels fighting to topple Assad militarily.
Iranian officials have said they will not support any foreign intervention in Syria, while Western states have called on Assad to step down.
Brahimi’s predecessor Kofi Annan resigned in August after blaming “finger-pointing and name-calling” at the U.N. Security Council for hampering his efforts to broker a solution to the Syrian crisis.
He too had said Iran should be involved in efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis despite the West’s firm rejection of any such role.
But Annan said Iran, along with Russia and China, “must take concerted efforts to persuade Syria’s leadership to change course and embrace a political transition.”
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