Iranian Envoy, Hezbollah Leader Meet

The Associated Press
Thursday, July 27, 2006; 11:16 AM

TEHRAN, Iran -- A top Iranian envoy was in Syria on Thursday for talks on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, in a gathering of the Lebanese guerrilla group's two key sponsors, according to news reports.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was taking part in the session, according to Kuwait's Al-Siyassah newspaper, known for its opposition to the Syrian regime. It said the meeting was designed to discuss ways to maintain supplies to Hezbollah fighters with "Iranian arms flowing through Syrian territories."

The newspaper said it learned of the meeting from "well-informed Syrian sources" it did not identify. It said Nasrallah was moving through Damascus with Syrian guards in an intelligence agency car. He was dressed in civilian clothes, not his normal clerical garb.

The Mehr news agency in Iran said Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was in Damascus for meetings on the crisis, but gave no other details. Similar reports were carried by the Iranian Labor News Agency and the Fars agency.

The Kuwaiti newspaper said the Iranian official would meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Nasrallah.

Iran's state-run media made no mention of Larijani's travels, and none of the reports could be independently confirmed.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said there "was no information" on the reported trip.

In Damascus, the Iranian charge d'affaires, Ghazanfar Rokn-Abadi, would neither confirm nor deny the reported meetings, telling The Associated Press: "We, too, heard and read in the media this report."

Iran and Syria are the main backers of Hezbollah, which touched off the recent fighting with a cross-border raid July 12 that captured two Israeli soldiers. On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a cease-fire but gave no specifics on how it could be achieved.

Larijani _ hand-picked for the security post by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei _ also serves as Iran's key negotiator in the standoff with the West over Tehran's nuclear program.

© 2006 The Associated Press