Syria PM in Tehran ahead of Geneva meet

AFP , Friday 29 Nov 2013

Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi talks to media in Damascus on April 29, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

Syria's prime minister arrived in Tehran Friday for talks with the leaders of close ally Iran ahead of a peace conference aimed at ending his country's civil war , the state broadcaster reported.

During his three-day stay, Wael al-Halqi will meet President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and National Supreme Security Council chief Ali Shamkhani, the report said.

On arriving, Halqi said he would discuss the Syrian crisis as well as bilateral issues, such as cooperation in the fields of energy, electricity, oil exports, infrastructure and health.

The visit comes a day after Syria said its delegates would attend the so-called Geneva 2 conference, scheduled for January 22.

Contrary to demands by rebels, Damascus insists that the departure of President Bashar al-Assad will not be up for discussion.

Iran is Assad's main regional ally and has backed it in the civil war that has killed an estimated 120,000 people and driven millions from their homes.

It is not yet clear whether Tehran -- which is accused by the rebels of arming Damascus -- will participate in Geneva 2.

Halqi last visited Tehran in August, shortly after Rouhani took office.

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