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Syria conference resolution unlikely to fly

Iran has urged Syrian rebels to negotiate reform, a strategy winning international support at the Tehran meeting. The US dismissed the conference, alleging Iran helped Assad kill his own people.

The meeting included Russia, China, Cuba, Iraq and Venezuela, all allies of Iran, but it excluded the United States, its European counterparts, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Also present were India and Jordan .

During the talks Iran 's foreign minister insisted the Assad administration would not collapse under pressure from abroad. The Iranian state broadcaster announced those present at the conference back the call for a three-month truce.

"A major part of the opposition has announced that it is ready to negotiate with the Syrian government in Tehran without any preconditions," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

There was, however, no confirmation of this from the Syrian opposition, which, like the government, did not attend the conference.

"It will be a mistake to think that with the continuation of pressure and unwise moves, the Syrian leadership would finally collapse," Salehi said, calling on nations not present in Tehran that had previously sought to bring an end to the conflict through sanctions and UN resolutions to not meddle in Syrian affairs. "With such interference, they are worsening the crisis."

'Bad for the region'

With most countries represented only by their ambassadors - and most Western and Middle Eastern states that favor Assad's stepping down uninvited or declining to attend - analysts saw little impact from the meeting on the continuing violence.

Free Syrian Army fighters clash with Syrian Army at Salah Edinne district, in the centre of Aleppo, August 7, 2012. Picture taken August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Syrien Bürgerkrieg FSA Kämpfer in Aleppo

"There is vast evidence that demonstrates that Iran has been engaged in an effort to prop up Assad as he brutally murders his own people," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, took that a step further in an interview with NBC television, accusing Iran of playing a "nefarious" role in the Syrian conflict and saying its "axis of resistance" is "bad for the region." She also said that in Syria "momentum is shifting clearly in favor of the opposition."

The United States and Russia , in particular, differ on how to tackle the Syrian conflict, stalling any UN action. Moscow and Beijing have vetoed three attempts within the UN Security Council to sanction Syrian President Assad's regime.

Continued differences

Along with Russia and China , Iran has strongly supported Assad, whose forces have launched crushing operations against anti-government protesters and opposition groups since the conflict erupted 17 months ago. Iran has resisted an agreement on Syria that requires Assad to quit as part of any political transition.

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Iran blames outsiders for Syria escalation

There is no sign that Iran is ready to adopt a new approach, despite setbacks for Assad that include this week's defection of his prime minister. Iran 's approach has soured its relations with neighboring Turkey , which has hosted opposition meetings, extended assistance to Syrian refugees and demanded Assad leave office.

Present at the meeting was the United Nations resident coordinator to Tehran , Consuelo Vidal-Bruce, who read out a statement from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that rebuked both Syria 's government and the opposition for attempting to win through violence.

"There will be no winner in Syria ," the statement read. "Now, we face the grim possibility of long-term civil war destroying Syria 's rich tapestry of interwoven communities. We cannot let this prediction come true."

mkg/jlw (AFP, Reuters)

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