MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) – Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad will run for the country’s next presidential election.
"In the next election, President Assad, like others, will take part, and the Syrian people will elect whomever they want," Aljazeera quoted Salehi as saying.
"The official position of Iran is that... Assad will remain legitimate president until the next... election" in 2014, Salehi said.
Syria has been locked in an increasingly bloody civil war since demonstrations broke out against President Assad in March 2011. According to UN estimates, at least 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Western states have been calling for Assad to step down. However, Russia and Iran insist that President Assad's exit cannot be a precondition for a deal to resolve the country’s crisis.