Report: Syria, Iran uniting against pressure

Assad: West trying to "create fear and concern among the two countries."

Syrian President Bashar Assad told the speaker of Iran's parliament Sunday that the international pressure on Syria and Iran aims at intimidating the two countries, something that would never happen, an Iranian official said Sunday. Assad, speaking at a meeting in Damascus with Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, reportedly added that some international powers were seeking to isolate Iran and Syria, but that those efforts would not be successful. The official who reported Assad's statements was a member of the Iranian delegation at the meeting. Both Iran and Syria are under US sanctions. The United States accused them of supporting Palestinian terror groups and Hizbullah. It also accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear bombs and Syria of allowing insurgents to cross into Iraq. Iran and Syria have denied the charges. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official comments, quoted Assad as saying that the campaigns against Syria and Iran by the United States and other western countries aimed at "creating fear and permanent concern among those two countries." Haddad Adel said his visit to Syria was aimed at sending off a joint Syrian-Iranian message, which is that "the two countries' relations would remain strong." Syria's official news agency SANA said Assad discussed with Haddad Adel "the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries." The Iranian official said Assad also raised the issue of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination, reiterating Syria's claim to innocence. A UN-mandated team is investigating the Feb. 14 killing, and there is speculation that the results could implicate Syria, which had occupied its smaller neighbor for 29 years until it withdrew its troops in April. Assad, according to the official, said those who plotted for Hariri's assassination wanted to "create a rift between Syria and Lebanon and expand the circle of tension in the region." Haddad Adel arrived in Damascus on Saturday from neighboring Beirut, where he met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, in addition to the leader of Hizbullah guerrillas, Hassan Nasrallah.