DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran blamed Western and Arab countries on Friday for the failure of Kofi Annan's Syria peace plan, the official IRNA news agency said on Friday, a day after the former U.N. secretary general quit as international envoy.
Annan said on Thursday he was stepping down, frustrated by "finger-pointing" and a stalemate at the U.N. Security Council while the armed rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was becoming increasingly bloody.
"Mr. Annan's reference to a lack of unity at the Security Council is not a reference to China and Russia. The Americans make projections and try to suggest their own opinion instead of the reality," IRNA quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
"In general, Western countries and some regional countries did not want Mr. Annan's plan to succeed because in that case, they would not reach their goals," Salehi said.
Iranian officials have repeatedly voiced support for Annan's attempt, centered on an April ceasefire that never took hold, to resolve the spiraling crisis that opposition activists say has killed some 18,000 people since March last year.
Shi'ite Muslim Iran backed popular uprisings which removed leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen but has steadfastly supported Assad, who is a member of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
Annan repeatedly said regional power Iran should be involved in efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis despite the West's firm rejection of any role.
But in an editorial published by the Financial Times, Annan said Russia, China and Iran "must take concerted efforts to persuade Syria's leadership to change course and embrace a political transition ... It is clear that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office."
Iranian leaders have accused the West of plotting with Arab countries to overthrow the Syrian leadership and bolster the status of Israel in the region through backing extremist militant groups.
Last month, Iran said it was ready to host talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups, an offer rejected by members of the Syrian opposition.
"Mr. Annan's plan will continue since it is the best plan on the table," Salehi said.
Earlier on Friday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast blamed "some interfering countries" for the failure of Annan's six-point plan.
The peace plan was supposed to resolve Syria's conflict with an immediate halt to the violence, withdrawal of heavy weapons and military forces from built-up areas, access for humanitarian aid and journalists, and a political transition.
"Not only these countries did not help ... Annan's plan, every time his plan succeeded in one area we would witness a rise in terrorist actions in Syria," Mehmanparast said, according to IRNA.
Writing by Zahra Hosseinian; Editing by Jon Hemming