Thursday, May 30, 2024

US says Iran’s Raisi visit to Damascus ‘should be of great concern’

The United States has expressed concern over Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Syria. State Department Deputy Spokesman Vedant Patel said on Wednesday that the deepening ties between Tehran and Damascus should be a source of worry for the international community.

“That the Iranian regime and the Assad regime are continuing to deepen their ties should be of great concern to not just our allies and partners and countries in the region but also the world broadly,” Patel said at a briefing.

“These are two regimes that have continued to partake in malign destabilizing activities, not just in their immediate countries, but also in the region broadly,” he added.

Raisi traveled to the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday for the first visit by an Iranian leader to the Arab country in more than a decade.

Following a reception for the Iranian head of state at the Syrian presidential palace, Raisi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad’s sides held delegation-level talks during which they discussed bilateral and regional issues.

Patel reiterated that the US will not normalize relations with Syria.

“And we do not support others normalizing (ties) with Damascus either, and we’ve made this abundantly clear to our partners,” he said, adding that a political solution in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254 is “the only viable solution” to the Syrian conflict.

The Iranian officials have reaffirmed Tehran’s continued support for Damascus.

“Syria’s government and people have gone through great difficulties, and today we can say that you have overcome all these problems and achieved victory despite the threats and sanctions imposed on you,” Raisi stressed on Wednesday.

After the meeting, the two countries signed 15 cooperation documents in the presence of the two presidents and their respective delegations.

Raisi and Assad also signed a memorandum of understanding on long-term comprehensive strategic cooperation between their two countries.

Raisi’s high-stakes visit to Damascus is the first by an Iranian president since 2011. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the last Iranian president to visit Damascus in September 2010.

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