TEHRAN, Feb 5, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – Iran is ready to help rebuild Syria, the Islamic republic’s top diplomat said Tuesday as he hosted his Syrian counterpart in Tehran.
Mohammad Javad Zarif, whose country has been a staunch ally to Damascus throughout Syria’s devastating war, met Walid Mouallem for closed-door talks at the Islamic republic’s foreign ministry.
Zarif confirmed “the readiness of Iranian companies to cooperate economically with Syria during the reconstruction period,” the ministry said in a statement.
Damascus and Tehran signed a string of deals late last month, including a long-term “economic cooperation” agreement.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the deals were meant to “help consolidate Syrian and Iranian resilience against the economic war waged against them by some Western states”.
Iran and Russia have been Assad’s main backers throughout Syria’s nearly eight-year civil war, which has claimed more than 360,000 lives and displaced millions.
The conflict has also caused nearly $400 billion-worth of destruction, according to the United Nations.
With help from its allies, Assad’s regime has retaken swathes of territory from rebels and jihadists since 2015 and now controls around two-thirds of the country, including its main cities.
Assad has pledged to prioritise reconstruction, and Damascus has consisently emphasised the key roles Russian and Iranian companies are expected to play in the process.
Mouallem on Tuesday also met Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
His arrival in Tehran coincided with the first visit to Tehran by the UN’s new Syria envoy, Geir Pedersen, who also met Zarif.