Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged Syrian President Beshar Assad to engage protesters in talks and refrain from further violence against dissidents.

The Associated Press quotes Ahmadinejad from his interview with a Portuguese television network on September 7, saying Syria must stop the violent oppression of protesters. He added that “a military solution is never the appropriate solution.”

“We believe that all nations deserve freedom, justice and respect for everyone’s rights,” Ahmadinejad said. “And governments have no alternative but to recognize these rights.”

Similar sentiments were expressed last month by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who urged Assad to respond to the legitimate demands of his people.

Such statements from Islamic Republic officials are of particular significance because Iran had been a staunch supporter of Beshar Assad since the anti-government protests started six months ago.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has emphasized that Syria’s uprising is different from what’s happened in other Arab countries in that they are heavily fomented by “foreign conspiracies.”

The U.S. and the EU have tried to bring UN sanctions against Syria on the basis of the “oppression and rising violence against protesters” in that country; however, Russia and China have disagreed with such measures.