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Iran tells Annan: Support for Syria "terrorists" must end

Support for terrorist groups in the region, especially in war-torn Syria, must be prevented and stopped, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who was visiting the Islamic republic to discuss Iran's nuclear issue and regional developments.

In a meeting with Annan and other members of the visiting Elders organization, an international body of public figures, on Tuesday, Rouhani said, that the international community should unite "for the cessation of war and killing in Syria."

"To this end, the most important step is the cessation of the support for and the prevention of assistance and transfer of weaponry to terrorist groups by some of the region's countries," he said, adding that "In addition, the issue of humanitarian assistance to Syrians inside and outside the country must be considered."

Annan emphasized the importance of finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria, adding that to resolve the crisis the UN Security Council and Syria's neighbors, especially Iran, had to play their roles, he was quoted as saying.

Concerning the nuclear issue, Rouhani reiterated Iran's longtime stance that all of its nuclear activities will be for peaceful purposes as stipulated in the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

"Iran seeks nothing beyond its rights based on the NPT's regulations, and should there be serious resolve in the other side, there is the readiness here for reaching a final nuclear agreement and a comprehensive conclusion in a short-term span," Rouhani was quoted as saying by Press TV.

In another meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif on Monday, Annan called for final settlement of Iran's nuclear issue, Iran's Kayhan International daily reported on Tuesday.

Annan urged the Islamic republic and world powers to seize the time and build on the nuclear deal clinched in Geneva in November 2013, according to the report.

He also praised Rouhani's proposal of a "World Against Violence and Extremism," which was endorsed by the UN last year, adding that peace and stability prerequisites for durable development, Press TV reported.

"Strong democratic and healthy societies are built on three pillars: first is peace and stability, second development and finally rule of law and respect for human rights," he said, adding that everyone is duty-bound to promote peace in the world and must unite to resolve the problems.

The group's visit to Iran is aimed at meeting with senior Iranian officials and hearing a range of opinions about current developments, in particular those affecting this region, Annan said.

Iran plays a crucial role in guaranteeing stability in the region, the former UN chief said, adding: "If we are going to have peace and stability in the Middle East, it is essential that Iran plays its natural role in the region."

The Elders' visit is an encouraging sign for Iran as the international community continues to open up dialogue with the country that continues to face a number of international sanctions that burden its economy.

Annan, who serves as the chairman of the Elders organization, arrived in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Sunday along with former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu and Mexico's former President Ernesto Zedillo.

The Elders is an international NGO of public figures brought together by late South African leader Nelson Mandela in 2007.

[Source: Xinhua, Tehran, 28Jan14]

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