Iran: Syria Must Be Given Enough Time to Implement UN Peace Plan

Iranian Foreign Minister, in joint news conference with Kofi Annan, rejects possibility of foreign interference, warns that a political vacuum in Syira would have 'devastating' effect on Middle East.

Syria's government must be allowed enough time to implement a peace plan sponsored by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in a joint news conference with Annan on Wednesday.

Salehi's comments, which were cited by the Iranian Mehr news agency, came after Annan arrived in the Islamic Republic, in an apparent attempt to salvage his peace plan by using Iran's stature as Syria's main ally in the region to convince Damascus to withdraw its troops.

Syira, Homs - AP - 10.4.2012

Speaking to reporters alongside Annan, whom he called an “even-handed mediator,” the Iranian foreign minister said on Wednesday that the “Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly announced its stance on Syria."

"We believe that the people of Syria, like other countries, have the right to enjoy all the rights enjoyed by any other country, such as freedom of political parties, such as freedom [to hold] elections, such as a constitution that encompasses all the desires and aspirations of a nation. These are the points we have mentioned," he added.

However, Salehi added, "if any change is to occur in Syria, that change should be implemented by the Syrian government itself. And the Syrian government, led by Mr. Bashar Assad, has promised to implement all these changes and to fulfill the demands of the people," saying that "enough time should be given to the Syrian government.”

"We have a slight disagreement on this point with certain other countries in the region and the West. They think in a different way. They want to see changes taking place there in a different way," the top Iranian official said.

Slaehi lauded Annan's peace plan for making "no mention of the removal of the head of the government in Syria, but rather what has been stated is that the sides sit down and negotiate and that enough time should be given to implement the changes."

“We have told Mr. Annan that we support his proposals as long as he acts in such a way, and we hope that, through his efforts, we will see the problem in Syria resolved,” Salehi was cited by Mehr as saying, adding that a political vacuum in Syria would have “devastating effects” on the region.

The Iranian foreign minister's warning against foreign intervention was made after, earlier Wednesday, shots were fired morning by Syrian forces toward a refugee camp in Turkey, located across the border from Syria, Turkish media reported.

CNN-Turk broadcast images showing Syrian forces firing at Turkish territory from a border surveillance building flying the Syrian flag near southeastern Turkey.
Moreover, Turkish media reported that Assad troops fired at Syrian refugees trying to cross the border with Turkey.

This was the second such recent incident, after on Monday Syrian forces fired into Turkey and Lebanon, killing two people in a Turkish refugee camp.