View Full Version : Iran, Syria sign defense pact

06-17-2006, 07:13 AM
Close allies Iran and Syria signed an agreement to expand military cooperation against what they called the “common threats” posed by Israel and the United States, AFP reported.

In a joint news conference, Iran’s Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar and visiting Syrian counterpart Hassan Turkmani said their talks focused on consolidating their defense capabilities and strengthening support for one another.

"Our cooperation is based on a strategic pact and unity against common threats. We can have a common front against Israel's threats," Turkmani told reporters on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, Iran’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that the two countries “stressed strengthening mutual ties and the necessity to preserve peace and stability in the region."

The statement added that both sides discussed "ridding the region of weapons of mass destruction," in an apparent reference to Israel, the only nuclear power in the Middle East.

The United States is leading a pressure campaign against Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran insists is aimed at peaceful purposes.

Washington claims that Iran, along with Syria and North Korea, are seeking weapons of mass destruction and describes them as “supporters of terrorism”

Asked about U.S. threats against Syria and Iran, the defense ministers downplayed the importance of such threats.

"This is nothing new, we will resist these threats," the Syrian defense minister said.

However, Turkmani dismissed the possibility of hosting an Iranian military base on Syrian soil. "The language of a (foreign) military base in our country is alien to us. I want to say that it is not on the agenda," he said.

For his part, the Iranian defense minister said that the “U.S. threats are a kind of psychological operation.”

Although both ministers refused to provide details about the military cooperation pact, Najjar said that Tehran "considers Syria's security its own security.”

The Iranian defense minister also dismissed allegations that Tehran could pose a threat to the region, stressing that "Iran is ready to sign a non aggression pact with regional countries.”

When asked about the upgrading process of the medium range Shahab 3 missile, which is capable of reaching Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East, Najjar said: “Our military warfare equipment is based on deterrent policies and strategy. Enemies should know about our capabilities and should not even think about an assault against us.”

He also said that Damascus bought some Iranian military equipment, but did not elaborate on the purchased items and didn’t say whether the purchases were made as part of Thursday's agreement.

* Iran welcomes nuclear offer

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed a package of incentives offered by Western powers as "a step forward", BBC reported.

Insisting that Iran “isn’t seeking to develop nuclear weapons”, Ahmadinejad, who’s attending an Asian security summit in China, said that Tehran would consider the package offered last week by the U.S., EU, Russia and China.

He added that Iran would formally respond to the offer "in due time".

The package includes trade and security benefits in exchange for Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment. It also includes sanctions if Tehran refuses to meet Western demands.

But Ahmadinejad said that “sanctions should not be used as a leverage or pressure against the countries of the world.”

The Iranian leader has held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Hu Jintao on the issue. The two permanent UN members have so far rejected sanctions or use of force against Tehran.

"Our views and positions on many issues are close or even identical," Ahmadinejad said.

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