Iran will defend the regime of its regional ally Syria due to its anti-Israeli stance, supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the visiting Turkish prime minister on Thursday.
"Iran will defend Syria because of its support for the anti-Zionist regime resistance," Khamenei said as he received Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the northeastern holy city of Mashhad, state television reported.
The supreme leader of the Islamic republic also reiterated Tehran's staunch rejection of foreign intervention in Syria, where he said reforms should be implemented.
"We are strongly opposed to any interference by foreign forces in the internal affairs of Syria... the reforms which have begun there should continue," Khamenei said.
Erdogan, for his part, was quoted as telling Khamenei that the region is facing "a very difficult situation which Turkey hopes to be resolved."
But Khamenei warned against any U.S.-led initiative to resolve the conflict in Syria saying Iran would "strongly oppose" such a plan.
The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have died in the revolt that broke out in Syria in March last year as a popular uprising, but has since transformed into an insurgency that many fear will lead to all-out civil war.
Erdogan arrived Wednesday in Iran for a two-day visit to hold talks on issues including Tehran's nuclear ambitions. He flew in from South Korea where he attended a nuclear security summit alongside world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.
Earlier Thursday, Erdogan voiced his country's unwavering support for Tehran's nuclear ambitions in a meeting with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to an official statement.
Ahmadinejad thanked Turkey for its "clear and frank" stance on the issue, the statement added.
Turkey has proposed to host the next round of long-stalled talks between Iran and the P5+1 group comprising the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.
Those talks, expected to take place within weeks, carry hopes of defusing a tense international showdown over Iran's nuclear activities that has sent oil prices soaring.
Israel says Iran's efforts mask a weapons program. Tehran denies the allegation, insisting it is only mastering the nuclear energy cycle.
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