Mon, Sep 09, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Iran’s foreign affairs minister say Syria airstrikes ‘illegal’

AFP, BAGHDAD

Iran’s minister of foreign affairs slammed potential US-led airstrikes against Syria as “illegal” on a visit to Baghdad yesterday, while his Iraqi counterpart warned they would hinder efforts towards a political solution.

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif said military action was barred under the UN charter, but Washington is pressing for the strikes in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack the White House says was carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“Civilised countries, 65 years ago, took the options off the table when they rejected in the charter of the United Nations resort to force as an illegal practice,” Zarif said at a joint press conference with Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari.

“Why [do] they [countries supporting a strike] call themselves civilized nations and continue to insist on all options being on the table?” he said. “All options have been removed from the table long, long, long time ago.”

Zarif made the remarks during a one-day trip to Iraq, his first since being appointed foreign minister by Iranian President Hassan Rowhani in the middle of last month, and after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki earlier yesterday.

Zebari warned that any strikes “would hinder political efforts” to help end the 30-month war in neighboring Syria.

In a rare cross-sectarian show of unity, Iraq’s parliament speaker — who is also the country’s most senior Sunni Arab politician — cautioned against military action.

“The military strike will not be beneficial towards Syria and will ignite a fire that will possibly extend to Iraq and nearby countries,” Iraqi Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi said in a separate news conference in Baghdad.

Before leaving for Baghdad, Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that Iran was “more worried” by the developments in Syria than other regional countries.

“The warmongering is happening in our neighborhood, which is an important issue and has made my visit to Iraq necessary,” he said.

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