Manmohan in Tehran, asks NAM to take clear stand on Syria

TEHRAN (TIP): The Syrian conflict sharpened divisions saw the NAM summit’s first walkout on Thursday, with the Syrian delegation rising in protest against the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s characterization of the crisis there as an uprising against an “oppressive regime”.

In his first address to the NAM summit in Tehran, Morsi openly expressed solidarity with the Syrian opposition. “Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty as it is a political and strategic necessity,” Morsi said. “The bloodshed in Syria is hanging over all of us. It is our responsibility… to actively intervene to stop the killings.”

This being any Egyptian leader’s first visit to Tehran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Morsi’s forthright comments set the tone for the discussions on Syria, and an embarrassment to the hosts, Iran.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the middle line by expressing support for “popular aspirations” while cautioning against “external intervention”. In his statement, Singh said, “India supports popular aspirations for a democratic and pluralistic order. Nevertheless, such transformations cannot be prompted by external intervention, which exacerbate the suffering of ordinary citizens.” While thus far, India has stressed on the point of non-intervention by external forces, this was a clear articulation by the PM that India also supported “Syrian aspirations.”

However, in private conversations, officials said the external involvement was the reason why this issue could not be resolved – Syria, they said has become a battleground for other countries’ wars. India’s position, officials said is this – the two sides should be made to walk away from violence before a resolution could be sought. PM asked NAM to take a clear stand on Syria, a demand that was drowned in the clear divisions between Iran and the Arab states. “The deteriorating situation in Syria is a matter of particular concern. Our Movement should take a stand on the issue in keeping with universally accepted principles. We should urge all parties to recommit themselves to resolving the crisis peacefully through a Syrian-led inclusive political process that can meet the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian citizens.

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” Ban ki Moon, who attracted no small criticism in the west for attending the NAM summit added his voice. In his meetings with the Iranian leadership, he urged “those who provide arms to either side” to realize that “militarization is not the answer”. “I urge all parties in the strongest possible terms to stop the violence now,” he said, and urged the Syrian government “to listen to people’s voices”.

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