December 18, 2012 / 1:17 PM / 5 years ago

Iranian minister denies Syria's Assad about to fall

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle East and African Affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, talks during a news conference at the Iranian embassy in Damascus February 8, 2012, after his talks with Syrian officials.Khaled al-Hariri

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Iran does not believe Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government are about to fall, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday.

Asked after talks in Moscow about Western suggestions that Assad and his government might soon be ousted, he told Reuters through a translator: "We have serious doubts about that. The Syrian army and the state machine are working smoothly."

Like Russia, Iran has been a staunch ally of Assad throughout the 21-month uprising against his rule.

The minister dismissed suggestions that Moscow had altered its stance on Syria, despite remarks by a senior Russian diplomat last week acknowledging that Assad's opponents could win the conflict.

"During our talks with our Russian partners, we have found there has been no change in the Russian position on Syria," he told a news conference.

Russia has shielded Assad's government from U.N. Security Council censure and sanctions, resisting Western pressure to join efforts to push him from power.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage

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