Foreign influence fans flames of violence in Arab Spring – Lavrov

Sunni Islamists shout slogans as they hold signs against the Syrian regime's crackdown on anti-government protests during a demonstration in the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on August 12, 2011 (AFP Photo / Mahmoud Zayyat)
Moscow and Tehran are emphatic that foreign powers should not meddle in the talks between the leadership and the opposition in the Arab world.

The stance was voiced by the Russian and Iranian Foreign Ministers – Sergey Lavrov and Ali Akbar Salehi – at a joint media conference after their talks in Moscow.

Lavrov pointed out that both Moscow and Tehran have similar views considering the situation in the states in the Middle East and North Africa, which have recently been hit by revolution fever. The major problem is rooted in the inability of the ruling regimes to address the peoples’ needs and expectations in a timely fashion.

“External players should not impede various conflicting political forces in one or another state from gathering at the negotiating table and talking,” Lavrov said. On the contrary, foreign countries should encourage a dialogue between the opponents instead of creating a situation where one of the forces feels that if it continues on a path of direct confrontation, support will come from abroad and their enemies will be “bombed from air”.

“That is what we are witnessing in Libya. And we can see what it’s led to,” the Russian FM noted.

Salehi agreed with his Russian counterpart, saying that Tehran condemns any outside interference into regional conflicts. Currently, the efforts of foreign states to tackle the unrest in the Arab world has made the situation even worse.At the same time, he stressed, the leadership of the countries which are facing political turmoil should respond to their citizens’ demands.

Earlier, Tehran called on the West to keep out of the Syrian problem, and appealed to the regional states to help the government in Damascus to settle its internal problems. Violence against protestors in the Arab Republic is the domestic issue, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"Any interference from western forces, especially the Americans, in the internal affairs of countries in the region will merely increase the hatred of the people towards them," he added, cited Fars news agency.

Moscow has maintained the belief that dialogue would be the best way to resolve the situation in Syria and warned its partners at the UN against taking any steps that could lead to a repetition of the Lybian scenario.

“New page” in Russian-Iranian relations

This week was marked by several meetings between top level Russian and Iranian officials. Prior to Salehi’s visit to Moscow, the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolay Patrushev, spent two days in the Islamic republic. The Iranian foreign Minister dubbed Patrushev’s trip to Tehran a success and said it opened a new page on Russian-Iranian relations.

In terms of global affairs, the states have managed to make a step toward a renewal of talks on the Iranian nuclear program. On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran is ready to accept the Russian “step-by-step” plan, under which Iran could be rewarded with the gradual lifting of sanctions in the event that the republic addresses unanswered questions about its nuclear program.

It is too early yet to set any timeframe for the process, the ministers told the media in Moscow. However, Salehi noted, “A trip starts from a first step”.

Both ministers agreed that Russian-Iranian relations present good prospects for trade, business, cooperation in fighting terrorism and extremism, and countering illegal drug-trafficking, among others fields of interest.