'Elders' In Iran, say let's build mutual trust

TEHRAN: Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has expressed concern about the ongoing situation in Syria, saying sustainable development will be achieved by promoting peace and stability.

“There can be no long-term development without peace and stability and there can be no long-term stability without development and both have to be rooted in rule of law and respect for human rights,” Annan, who is the head of a group of ex-global leaders known as the Elders, said in a statement in Tehran on Monday.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan, head of a group of ex-global leaders known as the Elders, Sunday started a visit aimed at boosting dialogue between Iran and the international community, media reports said.

Annan is accompanied by Martti Ahtisaari, a former president of Finland, South Africa's Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu and Mexican ex-president Ernesto Zedillo.

The group, formed in 2007, is made up of 12 global leaders who try "to promote peace, justice and human rights," according to its website.

Upon his arrival Annan said that everyone is duty-bound to promote peace in the world and must unite to resolve problems.

“All of us, including our Iranian hosts, are deeply concerned about the tragic situation in Syria today. We must all do our best to help reduce suffering and put the interests of the people of Syria to the fore,” Annan, who served as UN-Arab League envoy to Syria for five months in 2012, stated.

“Strong democratic and healthy societies are built on three pillars: first is peace and stability, second development and finally rule of law and respect for human rights,” he pointed out.

He noted that the group’s visit to Iran is aimed at meeting with senior Iranian officials and “hear from a range of opinion about current developments in particular those affecting this region.”

Prior to Annan’s arrival, the group’s website said the visit aims “to encourage and advance the new spirit of openness and dialogue between Iran and the international community, and to explore what could be done to enhance cooperation on regional issues.”

On Saturday, Annan said the Islamic Republic of Iran plays a crucial role in guaranteeing stability in the region.

"If we are going to have peace and stability in the Middle East, it is essential that Iran plays its natural role in the region," he said.

Meanwhile in a meeting with ex-global leaders in Tehran, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed the importance of putting an end to war and bloodshed in Syria through a Syria-Syrian solution.

Zarif stressed the importance of putting an end to war and bloodshed in Syria through a Syria-Syrian solution.

He said Iran plays an “undeniable” role in promoting peace, stability and progress in the sensitive Persian Gulf and Middle East regions and expressed Tehran’s readiness to strengthen cooperation with regional countries.

They expressed their serious concern over the current disastrous situation in the Middle East and urged efforts to reduce the suffering of regional nations and counter sectarianism. 

Zarif and Annan called for collective cooperation to counter the spread of extremism and sectarianism in the region.

The Elders, formed in 2007, is comprised of 12 global leaders who try "to promote peace, justice and human rights," according to its website.

On Saturday, Annan said the Islamic Republic of Iran plays a crucial role in guaranteeing stability in the region.

"If we are going to have peace and stability in the Middle East, it is essential that Iran plays its natural role in the region," he said.

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