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Azeri, Swiss, South African presidents due in Tehran: Spokesman

22 February 2016 13:27



Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says presidents of Azerbaijan, Switzerland, and South Africa will be visiting Tehran in the next few days to hold talks with senior Iranian officials.

Speaking at his daily press conference on Monday, Hossein Jaberi Ansari announced that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev will pay an official visit to Tehran on Tuesday.

Switzerland’s President Johann Schneider-Ammann, and president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, are also expected in the Iranian capital on February 27 and 29 respectively, he added.

Jaberi Ansari said that the visits by the heads of state from the three continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe mark a new era in diplomatic relations between the Islamic Republic and other countries.

He expressed hope that the exchange of views between Iranian officials and the three presidents would serve the interests of the Islamic Republic and other countries.

Iran condemns terrorist attacks in Syria

Elsewhere, Jaberi Ansari strongly denounced the recent deadly bombing attacks in Syria.

On Sunday, three bomb blasts in a suburban area of the Syrian capital, Damascus, claimed the lives of at least 87 people and injured 178 others. Earlier in the day, twin bomb attacks also killed at least 59 people in the city of Homs. The Daesh Takfiri terrorists claimed responsibility for the attacks in the two cities.

Syrians gather at the site of a series of bomb attacks in Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood, south of the capital, Damascus, on February 21, 2016. (© AFP)

“The Islamic Republic of Iran clearly and explicitly condemns all terrorist operations against innocent people,” including the recent deadly bombings in the Damascus neighborhood, Jaberi Ansari said.

The Iranian official stressed that fighting terrorist groups is vital for any solution to the Syria crisis.

“The success of any solution to Syria crisis is tied to fighting terrorism and stopping of financial and military assistance to them,” he said.

He further warned that terrorist groups are trying to disrupt any attempt to reach a ceasefire in Syria.

Military aid to Lebanon

Commenting on Iran’s possible military aid to Lebanon after Saudi Arabia suspended its multi-billion aid package for the Lebanese army, Jaberi Ansari said, “No official request has yet been made on part of the Lebanese government” in this respect.

He added that the Islamic Republic had earlier announced its preparedness to provide the Lebanese army with such assistance.

The spokesman said Iran views the Lebanese army as a “symbol of national unity” and a front “against terrorism and its spread.”

Iran generally supports the Lebanese government and army and any request from the Lebanese side will be considered, he noted.

Back in October 2014, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said the country had prepared a series of military items to be dispatched to Lebanon as a gift to help the Arab country in fighting against the Takfiri terrorists, adding that the military aid would be delivered upon Beirut’s request.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia announced it would suspend a $3 billion package to the Lebanese army as well as the remainder of a $1 billion in aid to its internal security forces.

Syrian government forces cross a retractable military bridge on the eastern outskirts of northern embattled city of Aleppo after they re-took the area from Daesh terrorists on February 21, 2016. (© AFP)

The $3-billion package was announced in 2013 so that Lebanon could buy military equipment from France. The first shipment of French weapons and military equipment had already been delivered to Lebanon in April 2015 under the Saudi-funded deal to bolster the Lebanese army’s fight against Takfiri militants encroaching from neighboring Syria.

Riyadh proceeded to carry out “a total evaluation of its relations with the Lebanese republic” in light of the positions taken by Hezbollah, an unnamed official told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The decision comes following recent victories by the Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah, against the Takfiri militants fighting to topple the Damascus government.

Syrian government forces have been fighting a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Some 470,000 people have been killed and 1.9 million injured in the violence, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

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