Sat Apr 8, 2017 1:45PM
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén meet in Tehran on April 8, 2017. (Photo by Mehr new agency)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén meet in Tehran on April 8, 2017. (Photo by Mehr new agency)

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the United States’ recent missile strikes against a Syrian army airbase are a breach of international law and set a “dangerous precedent.”

“Two important events [have recently] occurred. One of them was the killing of a number of Syrian people due to the use of chemical weapons, which was very painful for us and we condemn it,” Zarif said in a meeting with Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén in Tehran on Saturday.

At least 86 people were killed in a gas attack in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Province. Anti-Damascus militants and Western countries rushed to blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the incident, without providing any evidence to support their accusations.

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“And the second incident was the US missile attacks on Syria, which are in contravention of the principles of international law and a dangerous precedent,” Zarif said.

In addition to acting against international law, the US committed a bigger mistake as it carried out the attacks "without any investigation,” he said.

He warned that terrorists would later take advantage of the issue to draw others into conflicts whenever in a weak position.

“If terrorists feel that the US will act only on the basis of an allegation, they will repeat their heinous measures,” Zarif said.

He warned against the spread of terrorism and extremism throughout the world and stressed the importance of increasing dialog and common understanding among religions in an effort to help improve international security.

Using the Idlib tragedy as a pretext, US President Donald Trump ordered the country’s warships in the eastern Mediterranean to carry out a missile attack on Syria. They launched a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Shayrat Airfield in Syria’s Homs Province early on Friday.

Syria denounced the US assault as a “blatant aggression” that killed up to 15 people, including civilians, and caused “significant material damage.”

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Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Iranian diplomat said the Islamic Republic welcomes the expansion of relations with Hungary in energy, transportation, education and tourism sectors.

Zarif urged the two countries’ private sectors to boost their cooperation, particularly in the economic field and said Tehran and Budapest need to bolster banking cooperation.

Only dialogue can solve Syrian crisis: Semjén

The Hungarian official, for his part, stressed the importance of fighting terrorism and extremism to establish a secure world.

He added that there was no solution but dialogue to the Syrian crisis.

Semjén also on Saturday held discussions with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani about ways to improve economic, parliamentary and regional cooperation.

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani (R) and Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén meet in Tehran on April 8, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

Semjén said no obstacle could hinder the expansion of mutual relations, particularly after the implementation of the landmark nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany in July 2015.

Larijani, for his part, said, Iran and Hungary must put the promotion and revival of economic ties, particularly in the industrial field, on their agenda, adding that the exchange of visits by the two countries' officials shows their keenness to develop ties in various areas, including in the parliamentary sector.

Unauthorized US strikes spread extremism, terrorism: First VP

Meanwhile, in a meeting with the Hungarian deputy prime minister, Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri said the unauthorized US measure to attack Syria can boost terrorism and extremism.

“What the US carried out in Syria without any approval by the United Nations is a dangerous move and can lead to the strengthening of extremist and terrorist groups,” Jahangiri said.

He added that some Western countries are carrying out measures in the name of fighting terrorism but such moves would fail to guarantee their own security and that of the region.

Iranian First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri (R) and Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén meet in Tehran on April 8, 2017. (Photo by IRNA)

“Iran is one of the main victims of terrorism and chemical weapons and that is why Iran has made great efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and the use of chemical weapons,” the Iranian veep said.

He noted that the Islamic Republic has helped legitimate governments in the region threatened by terrorism.

Semjén, for his part, said his country has always condemned the use of chemical weapons because civilians are the main victims of such arms.

The Hungarian official expressed regret that big powers are using terrorism as a means to implement their own policies.