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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently visited Damascus, Syria, to meet with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The visit marked yet another attempt by Iran to consolidate its influence in the region and bolster its relations with one of its main regional allies, Syria.
The two leaders discussed a variety of topics, including regional security, as well as plans for Iran to assist Syria in reconstructing its war-torn infrastructure. According to an official statement released after the meeting, both leaders agreed to “strengthen their relationship and bolster bilateral ties in the political and military spheres.”
Following his meeting with President Al-Assad, President Rouhani met with Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al-Din al-Hassoun, the grand Mufti of Syria. During their meeting, the two men discussed the need for religious harmony and tolerance in the region, as well as the importance of equality between religious minorities.
President Rouhani’s visit to Syria occurs at a critical time for the region, as it continues to rebuild in the aftermath of several years of civil war. Iran is playing an increasingly important role in the reconstruction process, offering economic assistance to the Syrian government as well as helping to rebuild key infrastructure, such as power and communication grids.
It is clear that Iran’s presence in Syria and its close relationship with the government is an important element of its foreign policy. Iranian President Rouhani’s visit is just the latest example of Iran’s commitment to bolstering its ties to the region, and to ensuring its place as a major power in Middle Eastern politics.