Last updated: 29 June, 2012

Iran could be “heavyweight” champ on Syria, says Iranian envoy

Iran could be a “heavyweight champion” of efforts to bring peace to Syria, Iran’s UN ambassador said Friday, renewing criticism of his country’s exclusion from international talks on the conflict.

Ambassador Mohammed Khazaee hit out at the Western powers, “particularly the United States,” for ignoring “the power and the influence of Iran.”

“They have to consider that they are talking to a nation and a country that could be a heavyweight champion bringing peace and civility to the region. Syria issue is one of them,” Khazaee told reporters.

Iran and Saudi Arabia were high profile absentees from the invitation list to the meeting of foreign ministers in Geneva on Saturday to discuss a transition plan for Syria.

The United States and European nations opposed the presence of Iran, a long time ally of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Diplomats said Russia opposed Saudi Arabia because of its support for the Syrian opposition.

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and UN leader Ban Ki-moon had wanted Iran at the ministerial meeting and the UN has said Annan will brief Iranian authorities after the encounter.

“That shows how powerful and influential and helpful Iranians can be on the Syrian issue,” said the Iranian ambassador. Speaking of the Western powers who blocked his country, Khazaee added: “That is their problem, losing a good way to solve the problem.”

Khazaee said Iran had been “trying to find a solution” in Syria by “helping to end violence, criticizing the foreign powers who, militarily and financially, assist and help opposition groups and some terrorist groups.”

He added that Tehran had made “strong recommendations” to the Syrian government to carry out reforms.