TEHRAN / AMMAN
With sides mulling a possible cease-fire, Iran rejects Turkish proposal to replace Syrian President al-Assad with the vice president. President Ahmadinejad’s says difference with Turkey is on the means to achieve peace
A man runs past a damaged bus at the front line between the Free Syrian Army and the pro-government forces, in the city of Aleppo. REUTERS photo
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged a ceasefire in Syria and called for internal dialogue to resolve the crisis while rejecting a Turkish proposal to replace President Bashar al-Assad ahead of peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s visit to Damascus.
“The continuity of fighting and the killing of innocent and unarmed Syrian citizens...is unacceptable. A ceasefire must be achieved and then a dialogue started,” said Ahmadinejad, according to daily Al-Anbaa newspaper. “The solution must be made by the Syrian people,” he said during a visit this week to Kuwait, where he attended the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Summit. Ahmadinejad rejected a Turkish proposal made earlier this month, which recommended Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara replace the embattled al-Assad during a transition phase in Syria. “This means we are imposing a foreign solution on the Syrians. The solution must be Syrian rather than imposed from outside and the Syrian people should decide through elections,” the Iranian leader said.
Ahmadinejad said he had discussed the Syrian crisis with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
during a meeting this week on the sidelines of a regional summit in Azerbaijan.
“Our main goal is to achieve security and stability in Syria,” Ahmadinejad said. “But the difference is on the means to achieve that goal. Some believe that progress can be achieved through wars, but we believe that the means to achieve the goal is through national dialogue.”
“This is what we told Erdoğan and sought his help on,” Ahmadinejad said. Brahimi, who is trying to secure a truce in Syria for the Eid al-Adha, will arrive in Damascus tomorrow, the Syria Foreign Ministry said. There isn’t any sacrifice too great: FM
“Brahimi will meet with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on the morning of Oct. 20,” ministry spokesman Jihad Maqdisi told Agence France-Presse. Brahimi called for a temporary ceasefire in Syria during the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday starting Oct. 26. He said the temporary ceasefire he had called for in Syria could form the basis for a real truce in the war-torn country. In Ankara, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
welcomed the idea of an end to bloodshed in its war-torn neighbor.
“For us, there isn’t any sacrifice too great if the blood stops flowing in Syria even for a day, even for an hour,” Davutoğlu said, adding that he had discussed the plan with his Iranian counterpart. “The Arab League, Turkey and Iran
have declared their support for this proposal,” he said.
Davutoğlu expected those who backed the plan to make a statement today. On the ground, at least 44 people were killed in an air strike yesterday in the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan, rescue workers said at the scene. “We have recovered 44 corpses from under the rubble,” one rescue worker said. According to the rescue worker, the Syrian air force’s bombs destroyed two residential buildings and a mosque.