PA: International attempts to find a solution to the violence in Syria would be “unworkable” if they involved Iran, a UK Foreign Office minister has said. The Press Association
International attempts to find a solution to the violence in Syria would be “unworkable” if they involved Iran, a UK Foreign Office minister has said.
Middle East minister Alistair Burt said the regime in Tehran had supported president Bashar Assad’s crackdown on opposition groups in Syria.
Peace envoy Kofi Annan has proposed creating a contact group of countries, possibly including Iran, which could help resolve the crisis. But Mr Burt said it was “very difficult to see” how the involvement of Iran could help.
At the United Nations, former secretary general Mr Annan said plans for a contact group were at an early stage but added that Iran “as an important country in the region, I hope will be part of the solution”.
Mr Annan, whose peace plan for Syria has been left in tatters by continued bloodshed, has warned against allowing “mass killings to become part of everyday reality” following the latest reported atrocities.
Mr Burt called on all sides in the conflict to back the Annan plan, which involves a ceasefire and a process of political transition, before Syria reached “meltdown”.
He said: “As far as a contact group to put more pressure on Syria is concerned, we are interested in hearing more about this from Kofi Annan as to what it would do that the Security Council could not currently do and how it would overcome the problems we’ve seen of reluctance from Russia in particular to support actions which they consider to be detrimental to the Assad regime.
“It’s very difficult to see how Iran could be part of that because of its activity. Iran is a country which is supporting some of the unacceptable violence and supporting the Syrian regime in what it’s doing to the Syrian people. So seeing their involvement, I think it would render it unworkable.”
In a stark assessment of the situation in Syria, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon warned an all-out civil war was a real possibility. Speaking after a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York, he said: “The danger of full-scale civil war is imminent and real, with catastrophic consequences for Syria and the region.”
The comments came after reports that 78 people – including women and children – were killed in central Syria. Observers from the UN were reportedly shot at as they tried to reach the scene of the massacre in central Hama.