Iran strongly rejects reports on agreement on Assad removal

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian (1st R) meets senior world diplomats prior to international talks on the conflict in Syria, the Austrian capital, Vienna, October 30, 2015.

A senior Iranian official has strongly rejected reports that the Islamic Republic has agreed to a plan for the removal from power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in six months.

According to Iranian media outlets, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, on Friday dismissed as false the reports on Assad’s fate.

Western media had earlier in the day reported that Iran has signaled that it favored a six-month “transition” period in Syria followed by elections to decide the fate of the Syrian president.

“Iran does not insist on keeping Assad in power forever,” Reuters quoted Amir Abdollahian as telling Iranian media.

The developments come as international talks on the crisis in Syria are underway in the Austrian city of Vienna. The negotiations have brought together some 16 countries including Iran.

This is the first time the Islamic Republic has attended the talks after it was denied participation in the previous two rounds – both of which ended inconclusively – under pressure from the US and its allies.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif heads Iran’s delegation during the Vienna talks.

“Non-interference in the internal affairs of Syria [and] combating terrorism and extremism” must also be among common objectives of all participants in the negotiations if they really want to address the crisis in Syria, Zarif said upon arrival in the Austrian capital on Thursday.

The parties involved in efforts to end the violence in Syria have apparently come to the conclusion that “no reasonable and logical” solution could be found to the crisis without the Islamic Republic, added Iran’s foreign minister.

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