TEHRAN, March 12 (UPI) -- Tehran supports a stronger bilateral relationship with the Syrian government in Damascus, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament said.
Ali Larijani told the visiting deputy secretary-general of the Syrian Baath Party, Abdullah al-Ahmar, that Iranian lawmakers were ready to extend ties with the Syrian government.
"The Islamic Consultative Assembly supports expansion of relations (with Damascus) and is prepared to promote ... ties with the Syrian Parliament," Larijani said.
The speaker added that strengthened ties between Damascus and Tehran would serve the interests of both countries and their goals for regional peace, Iran's Fars News Agency reports.
Ahmar led a delegation of Baath Party officials to Tehran to visit with top Iranian lawmakers. The Syrian officials hailed Iran's role in the region, saying Tehran was a partner for many Muslim countries.
His comments came as the Shura council in Saudi Arabia called for regional efforts to contain Iran in the region and urged Tehran to reverse course on its controversial nuclear program.
In an apparent response, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Iranian Assembly of Experts, said Wednesday that Iran was a friend to the Arab community.