Iran says Syrian issue should be resolved without foreign intervention, through national dialogues

January 7, 2012 12:46 pm 

By Du Yuanjiang and He Guanghai

TEHRAN, Jan. 6 — Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Wednesday that the Syrian issue should be resolved without foreign intervention and through national dialogues.

Syria has been plagued by 10-month-old unrest that it blamed on foreign conspiracy and armed thugs. The crisis has prompted the United States, the European Union and even some Arab countries to impose sanctions on Syria's banking and energy sectors for its alleged crackdown on protesters.

As long-time allies in the region, Iran has provided Syria with economic assistance in the past years to counter international isolation and economic sanctions Syria is facing. The two countries have recently signed a series of agreements on economic cooperation to help Syria withstand new pressures.

"We believe that internal issues of Syria should be resolved internally between the Syrian government and its people," Mehmanparast said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"We are against any foreign intervention," he said, adding that "all countries can help and pave the ground for effective and constructive talks between the Syrian government and its people."

The Iranian spokesman did not rule out the necessity of reforms in Syria, saying: "Of course there is a group of people (in Syria) who are dissatisfied (with the government's policies), … and ( Syrian President) Mr. Bashar al-Assad has announced that he will carry out reforms."

He added that, however, there are "some terrorist groups which are trying to create instability and insecurity in Syria."

Mehmanparast accused the U.S. and Israel of using a number of ways to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

"The U.S. and the Zionist regime (of Israel) are using many tools for spying in many countries," he said, adding that as for Iran, "One of their tools is using spying drones and another is using individuals" for that purpose.

Iran's Intelligence Ministry announced in mid December that it had arrested a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spy in Iran, saying the CIA analyst was tasked with carrying out a complex intelligence operation and infiltrating Iran's intelligence apparatus.

Also in December, Iranian media reported that the Iranian military downed a U.S. RQ-170 stealth aircraft in the eastern part of the country after finding it transgressing the eastern border. The country's state TV later showed the footage of the drone.

"Americans know themselves that the number of their spying drones that have been controlled by our defensive and security forces is more than one," Mehmanparast claimed. "In a suitable time, it will be decided how to exhibit them," he said.

Asked about the impact of the recently-announced U.S. sanctions on the fluctuation of the currency rate in Iran, he said that "there is no direct link" between sanction pressures and the currency fluctuation in Iran.

"Some who want to relate this issue to the U.S. sanctions have political motives. They want to say that as the U.S. announced sanctions on Iran, Iran's economy was immediately hurt."

He refuted the claims relating the depreciation of Iran's rial against the dollar to U.S. sanctions, saying that the U.S. sanctions "has not been put into practice yet" and if it comes into effect "it will take several months" to show any effect.

On Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging defense funding bill, calling for new sanctions against financial institutions doing business with Iran's state banking institutions.

Two days after the U.S. sanctions on Iran's central bank was announced on Saturday, Iran's currency, rial, presented a significant slump against the U.S. dollar.

On Monday, one dollar was exchanged for 17,800 rials in the street market in Tehran, an increase of over 10 percent compared to its rate on Saturday.

Asked whether Iran's first nuclear power plant will be operational by the end of current Iranian calendar year, as it has already been announced by the country's energy minister, he said: "For the time being, Bushehr nuclear power plant is operating with its 50 percent of capacity. Different tests are being conducted regularly so that, at the time which has being announced by Iran's energy minister, the plant could reach its maximum capacity of 1000 megawatt."

The construction of the plant halted when the United States imposed a hi-tech embargo on Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Russia signed a contract with Iran in 1998 to complete the construction. But the project was postponed several times due to technical and financial challenges as well as pressure from the United States. (PNA/Xinhua)

DCT/ebp

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