DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister said on Monday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be a part of upcoming presidential elections, according to the Fars news agency.
“Iran disagrees with those who say Bashar Assad should not compete in the upcoming elections,” Hossein Amir Abdollahian was quoted as saying by Fars . “Only Assad himself can decide on his participation or non-participation.”
Russia, the United States and powers from Europe and the Middle East outlined a plan on Saturday for a political process in Syria leading to elections within two years, but differences remained on key issues such as Assad’s fate.
Regional competitors Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose rivalry has been aggravated by their support for opposing sides in Syria, both took part in the talks.
Saudi Arabia has said Assad’s use of air power and artillery in Syrian cities is genocidal and insists he can have no role in Syria’s future.
Assad and Iran accuse Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies of fuelling militancy in Syria by backing of rebel groups.
The United States and the United Kingdom both made it clear on Sunday that Assad needed to leave as part of any transition in Syria. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the need for a Syria-led political transition on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Turkey.
Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Andrew Heavens