Moallem: Syria-Iran strategic alliance strong

Syrian FM says ties between the two countries won't be shaken by possibility of peace treaty with Israel.

The "strategic alliance" between Syria and Iran is strong and will not be shaken by the possibility of a peace treaty with Israel, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Thursday. Speaking at a press conference after meeting his Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki, in Damascus, Moallem said that Iran's peaceful intention "was confirmed to us by our brothers in Iran." Mottaki expressed Iran's support for Syria's aims in the Turkish-mediated peace talks, namely the return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war. "We support the Syrian president's stand in recovering the occupied land," Mottaki said. Mottaki also briefed Syrian President Bashar Assad on the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program. The meeting in Damascus signaled Syria's willingness to act on a request by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to try to help resolve the crisis by pushing Iran to cooperate with the international community. Mottaki welcomed a Syrian role in trying to ease the tension, Syria's official SANA news agency reported. Speaking at a news conference, he added that Iran has always kept the Syrians informed of developments in the standoff with the United States and its European allies. Sarkozy met with Syrian President Bashar Assad at a summit of European nations and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea last weekend in Paris. The French president asked Assad to step in and persuade Iran to offer proof that it has no intention of developing nuclear weapons. Iran's assurances that it only wants nuclear technology for the production of energy have failed to quell suspicions that it is seeking a pathway to an atomic bomb. Assad promised to relay the request from France to Tehran, but expressed doubts that his intervention would help, despite his country's close ties with Iran. On Thursday, Assad stressed his view that "dialogue and diplomacy are the only way to settle this issue," SANA reported.