09/20/2013, 00.00
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Rouhani calls on West to join efforts for dialogue in Syria

In a letter to the Washington Post, the new Iranian president offers to act a mediator between Damascus and the rebels. "The world has changed," he writes. "Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities". Even the World Council of Churches announces meeting with Muslim religious leaders to help peace process.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "I announce my government's readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition," writes Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a letter published yesterday in the Washington Post as a sign of openness towards the West. "[W]hether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates."

Since the start of the Syrian conflict, Tehran has never budged from its silent support for the Assad regime, which has always been its historical ally in the Mediterranean.

Although not taking any specific stance, Rouhani's letter is part of a series of positive steps he has taken since he began his mandate.

"The world has changed," Rouhani writes. "International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities".

 "Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think-and talk-about how to make things better."

Hassan Rouhani, who has adamantly condemned the use of chemical weapons, is set to meet with Barack Obama at the United Nations on 24 September, where they are expected to focus on Iran's nuclear issue and the crisis in Syria.

Meanwhile, the World Council of Churches (WCC) announced of a new attempt to engage in dialogue with leading representatives of the Muslim world.

"We plan to have parallel consultations when the Geneva II meeting happens, so we can mobilise both Church leaders and other religious leaders for a commitment to a peace process in Syria," WCC head Olav Fyske Tveit said.

Syria has been home to many religious groups who have lived together for centuries in a peaceful manner. Christians, who are less than 10 per cent of the population, have always enjoyed the respect and protection by the authorities.

The arrival of thousands of jihadist fighters to boost the ranks of the opposition has helped to reignite sectarian divisions within Islam dragging the country into a new vortex of sectarian hatred.

"All communities in Syria have a certain fear, not only the Christians, a fear for the future," said Michel Nseir, head of the WCC's Middle East programme. "Christians, as everybody else, are victims of this war."

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