TEHRAN (AFP) – Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is to attend this month’s Arab summit hosted by its top regional ally Syria that is expected to be dominated by the political crisis in Lebanon.
“Mr Mottaki has been invited and he will travel to Damascus,” foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.
The March 29-30 Damascus summit has been mired in controversy over the crisis in Lebanon amid a standoff between the Syrian-backed opposition and the majority backed by the West and many Arab states.
Iran insists it wants to see a solution in Lebanon acceptable to all religious and ethnic groups but the West accuses Tehran of strongly backing the opposition through the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has moved to improve ties with Arab states during the past two years, becoming the first Iranian president to perform the hajj in Saudi Arabia and attend a summit of Arabian peninsula states.
Syria was practically the only Arab state to support Iran during its 1980-1988 war with Iraq and ties have been warm for decades, with the countries’ leaders frequently exchanging visits.