Iran hosts peace conference on Syria
Iran hosted a peace conference on Syria on Wednesday titled "Political Solution, Regional Stability."
The Iranian news media dubbed the gathering in Tehran the "Friends of Syria Conference," a term used by a coalition of Western and Arab states that support the Syrian opposition forces fighting against forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
It came as Russian and U.S. officials are trying to organize a peace conference on Syria in Geneva next month. Iran, Assad's key regional ally, has yet to be invited to the Geneva conference, spurring some observers to believe Wednesday's conference was a move by Tehran to portray itself as an important player.
Iranian media reported that officials from 40 countries and representatives from regional and international organizations were to take part in the conference. The more than two-year civil war has claimed 80,000 lives, according to the United Nations.
The Tehran conference was for "the countries that want to find a political solution," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the foreign policy and national security commission in the Iranian parliament, told The Times when asked about the meager participation of pro-opposition countries.
He accused the West of arming Syrian opposition forces and contributing to the bloodshed during the war. The West has accused Tehran of supporting the Assad government with weapons, logistics and troops. Iran has repeatedly denied having sent combat forces to Syria to help Assad.
Iran’s support for Syria has caused some tension with neighboring Turkey, a declared foe of the Assad regime.
"We hope Iran will accept the reality on the ground in Syria as soon as possible and that the difference of our opinion on Syria will be resolved," a Turkish diplomat at the conference who asked not to be named told The Times. "Especially as there is a continuation of the crisis spilling all over the regional countries."