The meetings took place amid rumors that Russia is trying to broker discussions between the Assad regime and Saudi Arabia, a leading backer of Syria’s rebels, to find a way out of the 4 1/2-year conflict. Last weekend, US Secretary of State John Kerry met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Saudi representatives at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Qatar.
Syrian State media made no direct reference to the supposed initiative, saying that the talks — chaired by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian — covered “bilateral relations, counter-terrorism efforts, and the latest developments in the region”.
However, State news agency SANA writes, “Al-Moallem and Bogdanov reviewed the outcomes of meetings held by the Russian side with countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council with focusing on the need for joint efforts to implement the initiative of Russian President Vladimir Putin on establishing a regional coalition to combat terrorism”.
SANA quotes Abdollahian, “The only solution to the crisis in Syria is the political one. Those who were seeking to change regime in Syria reached to an outcome that they were mistaken.”
Iranian media headline Bogdanov’s denial that Russia is moving away from the Assad regime.
Reacting to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claims of a change in Moscow’s policy, Bogdanov said:
Russia’s position is not something that changes based on conditions….
Our position has not changed on Syria and we believe that the Syrian people, government and opposition should sit to the negotiating table and decide for Syria’s future in a way that their independence will be safeguarded and interests of all groups and tribes will be met.
Supreme Leader’s Aide: No Problem With Relations With Hamas
The Supreme Leader’s top aide has said Iranian relations with Hamas are “cordial”, downplaying the recent visit by the leader of the Palestinian group to Saudi Arabia.
Velayati said Khaled Meshaal’s trip to Riyadh did not create a rift: “Iran would not interfere in Hamas’ internal affairs….Hamas is one of the most powerful organizations in the array of Palestinian resistance organizations; I have personal cordial relations with Mr. Meshaal.”
Iran’s relations with Hamas have been strained since 2012, with the Gazan leadership distancing itself over Tehran’s support of the Assad regime in Syria.
By EA WorldView