U.N. envoy: Syria war is threatening the region

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Mr. Annan’s plan never took hold and was largely ignored by the government and the rebels before it ultimately collapsed.

“I think the substance of this plan is still the best alternative,” Mr. Westerwelle said. “We have to solve the conflict in Syria, but we also have to avoid a conflagration in the region, and I think this explains why we seek and why we work for a political solution.”

Mr. Westerwelle also called on Syria’s opposition to unite and show that it stands for a pluralistic, democratic society.

Leaders in the region must follow the example of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi and condemn the Assad regime, he said.

“I hope this will serve as a wake-up call to those who still hesitate to denounce the violence caused by the regime in Syria,” Mr. Westerwelle said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, said that Iran is neutral in the Syrian civil war, and he denied that Tehran is providing weapons or training to Mr. Assad’s regime.

“We like and love both sides, and we see both sides as brothers,” he said. He referred to the conflict in Syria as “tribal” fighting and said that international “meddling from the outside has made the situation even harder.” He refused to say whether Iran would accept a government not led by the Assad regime, which for years has been Iran’s closest ally in the Middle East.

Associated Press writers Edith M. Lederer and John Daniszewski at the United Nations contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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