The continuing conflict in Syria remains the main and most painful subject of any international meetings. The first summit of the new organization called the Asia Cooperation Dialogue that took place in Kuwait was no exception. Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a rare guest of such events, was among the guests of the conference. He rarely visits Arab countries, even Iran’s closest neighbors in the Persian Gulf. During his visit to El-Kuwait Iran’s Foreign Minister, an experienced diplomat Ali Akbar Salehi, accompanied the Iranian president. Despite the visit’s busy schedule, the Iranian Minister agreed to answer the questions of the Voice of Russia.
Do you believe there is still a chance to resolve the Syrian crisis by peaceful means? What is Teheran’s opinion?
We constantly talk about this possibility. We pin our hopes on the UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. Right now he is conducting negotiations in a number of countries in the region. It is also important that he is in constant contact with the Russian and Chinese leadership. Iran welcomes his initiative to set a ceasefire in Syria, at least for the duration of the Feast of Sacrifice (in the Muslim world will be celebrated next week).
It is quite possible to find a solution that would satisfy both sides. To find a solution for the conflict in Syria is not that difficult as it appears. The main thing that is required is a sincere wish to reach a compromise. And most importantly, the Syrian government needs to acknowledge the opposition, while the opposition in its turn acknowledges the government. As soon as they agree to talk to each other, the following step would be to conduct negotiations with the world community acting as a mediator.
A part of the opposition and even some international participants demand the resignation of president Bashar al-Assad and the appointment of a new temporary leader as a condition for such negotiations. What do you think of such demands?
Those who initially pose such a demand for the president’s resignation in reality don’t want to resolve the conflict. Such a demand in itself is an attempt to interfere in the sovereign state of Syria’s internal affairs. The people of the country are to elect their president. And the people should decide who would be Syria’s next president during next elections. No one should decide that for the Syrian people. The choice should be in the hands of the Syrian people.
Nevertheless, some of your neighbors in the Persian Gulf, Qatar, for example, are already calling for a military interference in Syria.
I would like to pint out that lately Qatar has not mentioned that. And I want to point at the importance of Russia’s position, its objectivity and neutrality. We perfectly understand that in the conflict in Syria, Russia defends international law and justice.
Iran also faces international pressure, which is expressed in the escalation of the current economic sanctions against your country from the EU and the USA. How are you coping with this situation?
Iran has been facing the regime of economic sanctions for a long time. Nevertheless, we have built a strong economy. We have produced many goods ourselves for a long time. Iran primarily relies on itself. Iran annually produces over 1.5 million automobiles. It is only one of the examples. Thus, the effect of the sanctions is not that great. We cope with that pressure very well, although we see no rational for the pressure.
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