Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (L) speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (C) and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr (2nd R) ath their first high-level meeting on the Syria crisis in Cairo late on September 17.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has once again expressed opposition to foreign intervention in Syria and has called for a peaceful ‘Syrian solution’ to the crisis.
During a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr in Cairo late on Monday, Salehi stated that more talks were needed to agree on a plan which meets the demands of all sides.
Salehi added that Tehran has always said the Syrian government should meet the demands of its citizens and implement reforms, noting that “finding a peaceful solution is important.”
The Iranian foreign minister emphasized that there must be a “Syrian solution" and not one "imposed from the outside."
"The common ground between us is more than our differences," he added.
Davutoglu also called for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis, adding that the group of four countries agreed on some common points.
“The United Nations is committed to find a solution and we are striving to reach another diplomatic initiative… Four countries from our region, Saudi Arabia and us three, we have decided to meet in order to hold consultations to reach a common perspective regarding the future of our region, specifically the future of Syria,” the Turkish foreign minister said.
“We have a goal. Our end goal is for Syria to be strong… and also for Syria to come out strong after this process. We want a Syria which is based on the legitimate demand and right of the Syrian people,” Davutoglu stated.
"Nobody should expect from one meeting an immediate action plan which we agree upon and could be presented to others," he said, adding that the important thing is the "regional ownership" of the issue.
However, Amr said it was too early to devise a specific plan and stated that the talks would continue in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session, which opens in less than ten days.
“We discussed a number of ideas and principles in general… which could contribute in reaching a solution to the unfortunate situation in Syria,” he added.
The three foreign ministers also held a meeting with UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi later on Monday.
During an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Mecca in mid-August, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi put forward a proposal for the establishment of a contact group, comprised of Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, to help resolve the Syrian crisis.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal did not attend Monday’s meeting and there was no immediate Saudi comment on his absence.
An Egyptian official said that the Saudi foreign minister did not attend for health reasons, but gave no explanation for why no one else came in his place.
The Cairo meeting of the “contact group” on Syria was held about a week after preparatory talks in the Egyptian capital by lower-ranking officials from the four countries’ foreign ministries.
Last Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, along with diplomats from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, attended a meeting in Cairo to exchange views on the situation in Syria.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
Western states have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. However, Russia and China are strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust Assad.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals, mostly from Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.