THE LEVANT NEWS — An Iranian official said that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria should remain in power and be included in elections as part of any diplomatic negotiation aimed at ending the civil war.
The statement, by Hossein Amir Abdollahian, a deputy foreign minister, was not a new position for Iran, Mr. Assad’s regional ally. But it reinforced the deep divide that remains over Mr. Assad’s future in the international talks on Syria, even as pressure has intensified for a solution. Diplomats participating in the talks in Vienna over the weekend represented more than a dozen countries, including the United States, which has said Mr. Assad cannot be part of any final settlement.
Mr. Abdollahian was quoted by Iran’s Fars News Agency as saying Iran ensured that a statement issued at the meeting’s conclusion excluded any language that would limit Mr. Assad’s role in a postwar government.