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Iran proposes regional observers for ally Syria: Reports

In Cairo meeting, Iran proposes Syria peace talks and an end to support for Syrian opposition, calls on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to dispatch observers

AFP , Tuesday 18 Sep 2012
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Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi put forward a suggestion at a regional "contact group" meeting held in Cairo on Monday, that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey dispatch observers to Syria, the official news agency IRNA and broadcaster IRIB said.

He also offered to host the group's next meeting in Tehran, they added.

Salehi told his Egyptian and Turkish counterparts at the Cairo meeting that "observers" from their countries, and from Saudi Arabia, could "monitor the process of stopping the violence in Syria," according to IRNA.

He also called for peace talks "to help the process of fundamental reforms and finding a democratic approach in Syria."

Salehi appealed for "a simultaneous halt in clashes and violence by the sides in Syria, insisted on a peaceful solution without foreign intervention and a halt to financial, military and training support for the Syrian opposition," IRNA reported, without giving a source.

It said Salehi offered for Iran to host the next contact group meeting, but it gave no date.

The United Nations last month put an end to its own observer mission to Syria that was established in April, after a ceasefire between regime forces and rebels failed to take hold.

Iran's strong support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad contrasts with the positions of the other three members of the regional group.

Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are all demanding Assad step down in order to bring peace to Syria, where more than 20,000 people have been killed since an uprising broke out in March 2011.

Iran accuses Turkey and Saudi Arabia of supplying or facilitating military support to Syria's rebels.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, was absent from the Cairo meeting on Monday. He was said to be recovering abroad from recent surgery. It was not known if the kingdom was represented at the talks by any other official.

International peace envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, who just finished a four-day visit to Damascus during which he met Assad and opposition members, was said by an Arab diplomat to have joined the meeting.

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