Ban touts 'crucial role' Iran has to play in region

UN secretary-general touches down in Tehran for Non-Aligned Movement summit, says he will press host on Syria settlement.

August 29, 2012 17:58
3 minute read.
Ban Ki-moon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at NAM summit

Ban Ki-moon, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon touted the "crucially important role" Iran has to play in the region Wednesday after touching down in Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement summit.

"Iran has a very important role, a crucially important role to play in the region, particularly when it comes to the Syrian situation," Ban said. "I am going to discuss this matter with the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Khamenei] and the President [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] and other leaders."

Iran supported a failed UN-Arab League peace plan and says it should be involved in future international efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria.
"Bashar Assad said that any step that comes from Iran in order to solve the problem in Syria is trustworthy and acceptable," said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, a senior parliamentarian visiting Syria this week.

"Any plan without Bashar Assad is destined to fail, just like up until now it has failed," Boroujerdi told Iran's Fars news agency, saying Assad had "defeated" the uprising.

Iran's proposal for a 3-month ceasefire has been presented for discussion by NAM foreign ministers, Abdullahian said, and its outcome will be presented at the end of the summit on Friday.

Egyptian president Mohammad Morsy - who is due to attend the summit as the first Egyptian leader in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution - is also expected to lay out further details of his own plan for Syria.

Last week, he spoke of forming a contact group comprising Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to resolve the crisis, an initiative the Iranian leadership is keen to pursue.

"When Mr. Morsy comes to Tehran we'll see whether there will be other initiatives by NAM. We'll have to cross our fingers and see how things move," foreign ministry official Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh told state television on Tuesday.

But speaking to Reuters earlier this week, Morsy made a call for Assad to be removed from power, something Tehran would oppose.

Morsy's message could also prevent the normalization of relations between Cairo and Tehran. Diplomatic relations between the countries broke down over Egypt's support for the Shah and its peace agreement with Israel.

In the interview, Morsy avoided answering a question on whether he intended to upgrade Egypt's relations with Iran but indicated he would pursue a more balanced foreign policy in general.

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