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Syria bloodshed must stop first: Iran president

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the priority for the resolution of conflict in Syria is to stop bloodshed there.

“The first step is to stop the bloodshed [in Syria],” Rouhani said in a joint press conference with visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer in Tehran on Tuesday.

Rouhani added that once that priority is fulfilled, it will be time to discuss such political issues as democracy and opposition in the Arab country.

In response to a question about Iran’s support for the Syrian government, Rouhani said the priority now is putting an end to the total insecurity in the country and the misery of the people.

He emphasized that the future of Syria should be built by the Syrian people themselves through popular voting.

“No foreign country can and should decide about Syria’s future,” he said, adding that all countries should cooperate for the settlement of the Syrian crisis.

Iran is ready to sit at the negotiating table with any country or world power if the Islamic Republic deems that the result of such negotiation would be a secure, stable and democratic future for Syria.

Hailing the Iran agreement

President Fischer, who is in Iran on an official three-day visit, said during the presser that the recent agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 in the Austrian capital, Vienna, on July 14 opened a new chapter in the relations between the Islamic Republic and other countries.

The agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was clinched between Iran and the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia plus Germany, which together form the P5+1.

President Fischer said Austria attached especial significance to good relations with other countries. He said such relations should not be lop-sided and to the benefit of only one party.

Both sides should equally benefit from the relationship, he said.

Bilateral trade with Iran

President Fischer also said he expected Austria’s bilateral trade with Iran to grow to 300 million euros (335 million dollars) this year, and continue to “markedly” increase in the coming years.

He also said that the two governments had agreed to increase political and economic cooperation, and the agreements would benefit both sides equally.

The Iranian president, for his part, firstly thanked the Austrian government for its “good hosting” of the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries, which culminated in the agreement between the two sides.

Earlier in the day, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) met with his Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer during a welcome ceremony in Sa’ad Abad palace in Tehran. (Photo by AFP)

The Austrian president is in Iran at the head of a 240-member delegation and on an invitation by President Rouhani.

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as well as Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Reinhold Mitterlehner accompany Fisher on his trip to Tehran.

Fischer’s visit to Iran is a first by a leader of a member state of the European Union (EU) since former Austrian President Thomas Klestil traveled to Tehran in January 2004.

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