TEHRAN - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Iran on Saturday to use its influence over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to move towards a diplomatic end to Syria's civil war.
Steinmeier, on a four-day trip to the Middle East, travels to Saudi Arabia on Sunday and is using his meetings to weigh up how to bring Tehran and Riyadh into talks to reach a solution to the four-year-old Syrian conflict.
Tehran has armed the Syrian government and, through its backing of Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, has helped Assad combat rebels seeking to end his rule. "My wish is that Iran uses its influence in the government and on Assad and his entourage so that we take the first steps towards a de-escalation in Syria," he said in Tehran on the first official visit to Iran by a German foreign minister in more than 10 years.
Steinmeier said he wanted Assad's forces to stop using barrel bombs and to allow aid organisations access to people in need of help.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this month military efforts were necessary in Syria even though they would not put and end to the civil war.
Germany is not taking part in any military action in Syria but in neigbouring Iraq it is providing Kurdish Peshmerga forces with weapons and training.