Top Iran official meets with Assad on regional stability

Ali Larijani also passes on message from Iranian President Ahmadinejad on "issues of mutual interest."

larijani grin 248 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
larijani grin 248 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran's top national security official held talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday, stressing that his country was working with others to establish security and stability in the region. Ali Larijani also handed Assad a message from Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that dealt with "the situation in the region and issues of mutual interest," Syria's official news agency SANA reported. It did not provide more details about the message. Larijani said Iran was eager to consult with its ally Syria on regional stability. "We are working with other [countries] to achieve stability and security in the region," SANA quoted Larijani as saying. Larijani also talked with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa about "the current situation in the region and the prevailing tension as a result of foreign intervention," SANA said. He also met in Damascus with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, said the meeting with Larijani was for "consultation on latest developments" in the Palestinian issue. He said there was no Iranian mediation effort in the political deadlock between Hamas and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's more moderate Fatah movement. Larijani's visit came as Teheran is under heavy pressure from the United States and some of its European allies to give up its disputed nuclear program. The US military accuses Iran of providing weapons to Iraqi Shi'ite militias and Syria of providing refuge for Sunni insurgents and allowing them to cross the border freely to fight American and Iraqi troops. Both countries deny the allegations. Larijani's visit also came less than a week after he traveled to Saudi Arabia to deliver a message from Ahmadinejad to Saudi King Abdullah proposing that they cooperate in helping stabilize Iraq. Iran's overture to Saudi Arabia appeared to be an attempt to counter America's efforts to rally its Arab allies in the region to isolate Teheran. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have shown increasing alarm over Iran's growing influence in Iraq and across the region.