Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Tehran was working to set up a separate contact group on the conflict in Syria, in a move unlikely to be welcomed by many nations.
“We do believe that through a national dialogue and a national understanding and consensus, they can, the various Syrian sides, reach a more solid conclusion, a more tangible and long-lasting conclusion,” the Iranian leader told a press conference in New York.
“Therefore we strive to pave the way for national dialogue and national understanding between the two sides and we are working hard to stand up and shape a contact group from various countries.”
He refused to divulge which nations had been approached by Iran to join the group, saying he was hopeful the Iranian foreign ministry would make an announcement in the coming days.
Tehran is already included in another so-called “contact group,” involving Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and has called for sending observers to Syria in an effort to quell the violence there.
There is a separate Friends of Syria group headed by the United States and grouping some 60 nations, which will meet Friday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss the conflict in which an estimated 29,000 people have been killed.
Speaking through a translator to journalists, Ahmadinejad accused “outside forces” of meddling in Syria, without directly naming any countries.
The Syrian issue “has become incredibly complicated because of the meddling of outside forces,” he said.
He warned that outside interference might yield “short-term results, but for decades to come it will keep Syria in complete chaos and instability.”
“The social fabric of Syria does not have the capacity to allow some tribal groups to gain the reins of power through warfare. And if followed will bring with itself subsequent warfare.”
He did not address charges from the United States that Iran is arming the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which is engaged in a brutal suppression of an 18-month-old rebellion.
Instead, the Iranian leader insisted his Islamic republic was working for peace.
“I am hopeful that all of those who beat the drums of war can come to understand the sensitive conditions of Syria. The European countries and America as well,” he said.
“No-one should meddle or interfere in the internal affairs of Syria. Anything that the people of Syria decide upon must be respected by all.”