Iran FM denounces use of chemical weapons in Syria

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi

Press TV -(Sun May 12, 2013) Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, expressing Iran’s readiness to attend an international conference on the ongoing crisis in the Arab country.

“We condemn chemical weapons,” Salehi told German daily Der Spiegel in an interview published on Sunday.
Tehran is “categorically against all weapons of mass destruction,” he pointed out.
The Iranian minister emphasized that Iran was itself a victim of chemical weapons during the Iraqi imposed war in the 1980s.
Salehi’s remarks came amid accusations leveled by the US and its regional allies, including Turkey, that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons in its fight against foreign-backed militants.
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday said there is “strong evidence” that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons against foreign-sponsored militants, despite the fact that UN officials and other US officials say there is no evidence.
On Thursday, Turkey and Britain also claimed that President Assad’s government has used chemical weapons.
“It is clear the regime has used chemical weapons and missiles,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview with the US television network, NBC.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron also said the government believes it is “very likely” that the Syrian government has used such weapons, but emphasized that it had “no evidence to date” that the anti-government militants had also used them.
On May 10, a member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Carla Del Ponte, said the militants had used the nerve agent Sarin which UN Resolution 687 classifies as a weapon of mass destruction.
She added that her panel had found no evidence yet showing that government forces have used chemical weapons.
Salehi told Der Spiegel that Iran is willing to participate in a conference on Syria, which could take place later this month.
Iran can “launch talks between Syria’s government and opposition,” he said, adding that he was “confident” that progress was being made in ending the unrest.
Diplomatic efforts have been ramped up to find a political solution to Syria crisis.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry made an announcement at a joint news conference in Moscow on May 7, saying they agreed to encourage the Syrian government and the Western-backed armed opposition to resolve the crisis through diplomatic means.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

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