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Iran: 200 Syrian politicians convene in Tehran

It may be a response to last week's rebel conference, which established the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary Opposition Forces.

Iranian foreign minister ali akbar salehiEnlarge
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi speaks as and International Peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi during a joint press conference in Tehran , on October 14, 2012. On November 18, Iran held a conference with 200 Syrian political actors to discuss the war. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

“No to violence, yes to democracy” — that was the slogan for Tehran's conference on Sunday, where 200 Syrian politicians convened to debate possible ends to Syria's civil war that began in March last year. 

Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said in his opening statement: “We believe reforms in Syria should lead to a free, fair and transparent election with the cooperation of all political parties." 

The Syrian National Dialogue conference was a one-day meeting under the auspices of Iran, Syria's stalwart ally. In the audience was Syria's National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar. 

KSPR said it's unclear if anyone from the rebel opposition, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary Opposition Forces, attended. The group, formed last week in Qatar, is an umbrella coalition for the factions that make up the Syrian rebellion. 

The Washington Post put it this way: "The Tehran conference, viewed by some as a response to the Doha gathering, included representatives from across Syria’s ethnic and religious spectrum, but none identified themselves as specifically in opposition to the Syrian regime."

Turkey and France recognize the rebel coalition as the legitimate government of Syria. 

At the conference, Salehi voiced opposition to international influence in Syria's civil war. 

"Iran has repeatedly emphasized that it wants a peaceful Syrian-Syrian solution for the current crisis without the interference of foreigners.... The Syrians themselves know better what is best for them," Salehi said, according to Reuters

The fighting between Bashar al-Assad's forces and the Syrian rebels continues. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/121119/iran-200-syrian-politicians-convene-tehran