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September 25, 2017

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Iran urges nonaligned nations role in Syria

TEHRAN -- Iran's supreme leader said Friday that developing nations have a greater right than the U.S. or NATO to intervene in Syria, signaling an effort to lead a diplomatic push over efforts to resolve the crisis.

The comments came a day after Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi embarrassed the Islamic Republic by blasting its ally, Syria, during a speech at the summit of the Nonaligned Movement, a grouping of some 120 nations.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met Friday with Syria's prime minister, Wael Nader al-Halqi, and Damascus' delegation to the conference.

"There is a proxy war against the Syrian government, on behalf of some governments led by the U.S. and some other powers with the objective of meeting the Zionist regime's (Israeli) interests and inflicting a blow to resistance in the region," Khamenei was quoted as saying on his website.

He didn't mention Egypt. But Iran's former ambassador to Syria, Hossein Sheikholeslam, openly criticized Morsi, saying the Islamist leader had demonstrated "lack of political maturity" with his comments.

Morsi — in the first visit to Iran by an Egyptian leader since the 1979 Islamic Revolution — on Thursday called the Syrian regime "oppressive" and said the world must stand behind the Syrian rebels. That prompted a walkout by Syrian delegates to the conference.

Sheikholeslam said Morsi "made a big mistake" by condemning the Syrian government in his speech, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency

Iran sought to use the weeklong summit to assert itself on the Syrian crisis and to counter Western efforts to isolate Tehran over its nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies say Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons, but Iran denies the claims and says its program is for peaceful purposes.

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