Syria Live Blog
Iranian Foreign Minister: Syrians should choose leader in 2014 vote
The Syrian people should be left to choose their leader in elections due in 2014 and until then countries should avoid aggravating the bloodshed by interfering on the ground, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday.
Iran has supported President Bashar al-Assad throughout the 16-month uprising in Syria, a rare ally amidst widespread condemnation of a crackdown on dissent that has left thousands dead.
Syria, led by members of a sect related to Shia Islam, accuses the Sunni-led Gulf monarchies of supporting unrest among its Sunni majority as a way to check rising Shia influence in the region, most notably that of Shia Iran.
Far from urging Assad to step down, as the West and many Middle Eastern countries have done, Salehi said he should stay at least until elections in 2014.
"No ruler is an eternal ruler, so in the case of Mr Bashar al-Assad, by 2014 there are presidential elections in which we will have to let the events take their normal course," Salehi said in an interview with Reuters in Abu Dhabi.