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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif shaking hands with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, January 4, 2014..(Photo by: REUTERS/Murad Sezer)
Iran's Zarif says priority in Syria is cessation of fighting, humanitarian crisis
Iranian FM and other Middle East leaders, including Turkish FM Davutoglu, discuss regional changes at Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland in a discussion under the banner "The End Game for the Middle East."
The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland continued Friday with Middle East leaders, including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, discussing developments in the region in a discussion entitled, "The End Game for the Middle East."

A large part of the discussion centered on Syria and the ongoing humanitarian crisis there.

When the moderator asked Zarif if Iran would continue to take sides in the Syrian civil war, the foreign minister said that the focus should be on first ending the fighting and humanitarian crisis in Syria and only after the political issues should be approached.

When Zarif was asked whether he would call for Hezbollah fighters to leave Syria, Zarif called for all fighters in Syria, which would include the opposition fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, to leave. Shi'ite Iran is an important ally for Assad who belongs to the Alawite Shi'ite sect. 

On the same question, the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called only for all foreign forces to leave Syria, in a nod of support to the Syrian opposition fighting Assad.

The panel explored how accelerated diplomacy, historical rivalries and social transformations are rapidly converging to fundamentally reshape the region. 

Zarif sounded an optimistic note about the future of the region. He said that one year ago people would not have believed that the Iranian nuclear deal would be reached. He said that next year we could come here and the Syrian crisis could be over.


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