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Iran plans private sector participation in Syria reconstruction

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry has announced that the country plans to have its private sector participate in the reconstruction of post-war Syria.

Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Bahram Qassemi said in a press briefing on Monday that Iran has had an active presence in the fight against terrorism in Syria based on the Syrian government’s request and will be present in reconstructing the Arab country as well.

“Iran’s plan is for the private sector and commercial, industrial, and technological enterprises to have a presence in Syria,” Qassemi said. “We hope conditions would be created as soon as possible for work to begin and for the [Iranian private] sector, too, to be able to serve the people of Syria.”

Syria has been fighting militancy since 2011. But the Syrian government, with advisory military help from its allies Iran and Russia, has taken back control of much of the country since then, and the conflict is generally believed to be winding down. Countries are already planning to help reconstruct war-hit Syria.

The Iranian spokesman was asked in the presser whether relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran could be restored, given that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently tweeted about Iran’s readiness to cooperate with Riyadh despite the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Qassemi said Iran’s stance is clear on the matter and has been repeatedly expressed before.

“In case [the right] conditions are created in the region, cooperation between regional countries can definitely have considerable impact on the peace, stability, and security of the region,” he said.

Foreign Minister Zarif has reaffirmed that principled stance, he said.

Saudi Arabia has shown open hostility toward Iran in recent years. It severed its diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016, shortly after it executed prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr and when small groups of Iranians attacked Saudi diplomatic perimeters in Tehran and Mashhad — both of them vacant at the time of the attacks — in protest against that execution.

Foreign Minister Zarif’s tweet came after US President Donald Trump said Saudi rulers may not last “for two weeks” without Washington’s support.

Qassemi also confirmed the receipt by Iran of a “written note” from the US about America’s withdrawal from the “Treaty of Amity,” signed between the two countries in 1955.

The US said it would be pulling out of the treaty after it was handed a defeat at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a case filed by Iran that had invoked the treaty.

Iran has filed another lawsuit against the US at the same court but over a different matter. The Islamic Republic has invoked that same treaty in its new complaint.

Qassemi said that despite a declaration of withdrawal, the pullout from the “Treaty of Amity” would take at least a year to take effect.

The spokesman was also asked about the US military presence in Syria.

He said that that presence is “unlawful and in contravention of international regulations” because America has deployed its forces to Syrian territory without the government’s permission.

“Our advice is that America had better exit Syria at the earliest and refrain from interfering in the [internal] affairs of the country,” he added.

The US started an aerial campaign against what it said were the positions of the Daesh terrorist group in Syria in September 2014. It has had special forces on the ground there as well. Both of those activities have lacked Syrian government permission.

Qassemi said that, given the US reputation as an expansionist country, it will act to create instability and insecurity in Syria and to prop up the terrorists who have largely been defeated there.

Separately, in a notice published on the website of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Qassemi rejected media reports about a “suicide bombing” at the site of the Iranian Embassy in Ankara and the evacuation of Iranian personnel.

“This news […] is sheer falsehood, and our Embassy personnel are present at their workplace, in full safety and health, and are engaged in their daily work,” he said.

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