Iran has no intention to leave Syria: top official

Iran has no intention of leaving Syria regardless of U.S. and Israeli pressure, a senior envoy to Iran’s leader said on Friday, reaffirming a tough stance on the issue expected to top the agenda of the upcoming U.S.-Russian summit.

The statement from Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came in the wake of his meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Israel’s demand

A day earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Mr. Putin that Israel wants Iran to leave Syria.

The high-level talks precede Monday’s summit in Helsinki between Mr. Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump, who are set to discuss the Iranian presence in Syria.

Both the U.S. and Israel want Iran to pull out of Syria, while Russia has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

“We coordinate the Iranian presence in Syria with Russia and Syria,” Mr. Velayati said during a meeting at Moscow’s Valdai Club discussion platform.

“We will be present there the way we consider necessary.”

“We have come there without the Americans’ permission and we won’t heed their demands to leave,” he said.

“I told the Russian officials — Now the Americans are telling you that the Iranians must leave Syria and tomorrow they will ask you what you are doing in Syria,” he said. “They are trying to split our alliance.”

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