• Steinmeier says work on a political solution must start now
  • Syria `fragmentation' unavoidable, he says at Tehran meeting

Iran’s role in Syria’s crisis must be constructive and a political resolution cannot be achieved without the involvement of President Bashar al-Assad’s main regional ally, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Tehran.

Speaking at a meeting of core members of the Munich Security Conference, Steinmeier said Saturday that the “fragmentation of Syria is unavoidable” and achieving a political resolution had to start as soon as possible.

“The simple answer is Iran has to play a constructive role,” Steinmeier said during what was the first visit by a German foreign minister to Iran since 2003. “Because without Iran we cannot find a political resolution.”

The conference is being held in the Iranian capital a day before the so-called adoption day of the nuclear agreement, which was reached in July, when the terms of the deal are expected to be formally adopted by Iran and the six other countries who are party to it, including Germany.

“On the eve of adoption, it’s important to remind ourselves that the challenges are just beginning -- we consider the agreement as an opening for further diplomatic endeavors,” Steinmeier said.

Air Strikes

The German foreign minister called Russia’s decision to start air strikes against opponents of Assad in Syria a “setback” for the country. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Russia’s actions were part of efforts to fight terrorist groups in Syria and the so-called Islamic State.

“There is no military solution -- I didn’t say there is no need for military action,” he said. “Obviously there is need for military action in fighting Daesh,” he added, using the Arabic term often used to describe IS by its opponents.

Steinmeier said he will be flying from Tehran to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on Sunday and he intended to use his visit to discuss the security situation in the region. In a press conference ahead of the meeting Zarif said Iran would not allow the Saudi government to “exclude Iran from the region.”

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