Iran's Rohani Affirms Support for Syria and Hezbollah in 'Confronting Zionist Regime'

New Islamic Republic president, seen by West as moderate, also quoted as saying Bashar Assad's regime will overcome its current crisis.

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Iran's president-elect has sent messages to Syria's Bashar Assad and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group, reaffirming support for the two allies for the first time since his election.

Hassan Rohani was quoted by the official IRNA news agency on Tuesday as saying close Iranian-Syrian ties will be able to confront "enemies in the region, especially the Zionist regime," or Israel.

Syria will "overcome its current crisis," he added.The note was in response to Assad's congratulatory message on Rohani's June election. Tehran has sided with Assad's regime in Syria's civil war.

Rohani also wrote to Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, saying Iran backs the "steadfast nation" of Lebanon and the Palestinians, a reference to the militant Hamas group.

The notes reflect Rohani's intentions to emphasize links to Iran's key regional allies even as he urges for greater outreach to the West.

Rohani was Iran's chief nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005 and he has said he is convinced he could have sealed a deal if Tehran had been talking directly to Washington at the time.

Efforts are under way for a new, fourth round of the multilateral nuclear talks bringing together Iran and the U.S. and other world powers. Earlier rounds have brought no headway.

It is still too early to gain anything more than hints from Iran on whether Rohani's election this month could shift tactics in nuclear negotiations, however.

Rohani does not formally take office until August. Washington has said it appreciates Rohani's appeals for more engagement, but knows the meaningful decisions are made higher up by Iran's theocracy.

Iranian President-elect Hassan Rohani attends Ramadan Friday prayer at Tehran University, July 12, 2013. Credit: AFP

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