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New Iran leader meets Syrian president
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received his Syrian counterpart Sunday, the first head of state to pay an official visit to the newly-inaugurated Iranian leader, and reiterated that the two countries should unite against their opponents.
Syrian President Bashar Assad emphasized terrorism in his comments after arriving in Tehran for a two-day visit. "Iran and Syria should pay attention to terrorism, which is spreading in the Middle East," Assad said, reported AP.
Both Iran and Syria are under pressure and sanctions from the United States, which accuses them of supporting militant groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and radical Palestinian factions.
"Common threats deserve the formation of a united front by Iran and Syria more than ever," Ahmadinejad said at a joint news conference with Assad. "Boosting relations could protect the region from the threats."
The Iranian leader did not identify the source of the threats but, in a commentary on the visit, Iranian state television said: "Cooperation between the two countries is important because the United States and Israel have invaded the region."
In a February visit to Tehran by Syria's prime minister, Iranian and Syrian officials spoke of forming a "united front" to counter external pressure, but nothing concrete about an alliance has emerged.
The Iranian TV commentary said "Syria considers boosting relations (with Iran) as a way of reducing U.S. pressure on Damascus."
Iran and Syria have long been close. Sunday's was Assad's fourth visit to Iran since he took office in 2000. During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, Syria was the only Arab country to support Iran.