Iranian, Italian FMs Discuss Broad Range of Issues

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Italian counterpart Emma Bonino held discussions on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues in a meeting here in Tehran on Sunday.

Iranian, Italian FMs Discuss Broad Range of Issues

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, the Iranian foreign minister described Tehran-Rome relations as “sustainable ties over centuries”, and noted that his talks with the visiting Italian minister have revolved around “a broad range of mutual cooperation, namely talks on the regional issues.”

“In the talks with my Italian counterpart, we discussed cultural, academic and regional cooperation, and we specially discussed common points regarding the Syrian crisis, and Afghanistan, as well as the nuclear negotiations (between Iran and the world powers),” Zarif told reporters.

“We and the Italian side have very close views,” the Iranian minister stated.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Bonino arrived in Tehran on December 21 for an official visit to hold talks with Iranian authorities.

She is also scheduled to hold a separate meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday.

Bonino’s visit comes after Zarif travelled to Rome in November at the invitation of his Italian counterpart to exchange views on regional and international matters.

During the press conference, Zarif also pointed to the lingering crisis in Syria, reiterating that a political solution would be the only approach to end the crisis in the Arab country.

“The Syrian crisis has no military solution, and the political one is the sole solution to it," Zarif stated, adding that the political solution should be based on realism and should end violence in the crisis-hit country and pave the ground for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny.

Zarif once again voiced Tehran’s readiness for “efficient and constructive presence” in the upcoming Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria, saying the viewpoints that block Iran’s positive role in the gathering are not based on realism.

According to UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, about 30 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, would be invited to the day-long conference on January 22 in the Swiss city of Montreux.

Brahimi told media on Friday that Iran's participation at the Syria peace conference had not been decided upon yet due to the US opposition.

"The US is still not convinced Iran's participation would be the right thing to do," said Brahimi at a news conference after a day of meetings with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Syria’s neighbors Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

“Iran is not off the list for the moment," he added.

The conference would bring representatives from Syria's government and elements of the opposition to negotiate an end to the fighting that has raged on since March 2011.

The Syrian opposition has also opposed Iran’s participation in the long-awaited peace conference.

Geneva 2 is the second sequel of Geneva 1 conference held in June 2012 in which international parties laid out a peace plan for Syria that calls for a transitional governing body. It left open the question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.

Iran says it is the Syrian people who must decide who should rule them, in a free and fair election, and not the world powers.

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