Zarif in Damascus after new Iran ambassador appointed
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif headed a delegation on his trip to Syria, a close ally of Tehran, holding meetings with high-level regime officials and heads of Palestinian factions based in the country.
Items on the agenda included the latest developments in the occupied territories as well as the "Zionist assault" on the Palestinians and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
Syria and Israel are still technically in a state of war. Iran does not recognise Israel and supports the Palestinian militant group Hamas with funding, weapons, and expertise.
The Assad regime has portrayed itself as a staunch opponent of Israel although recent events have bought that image into question.
Syria and Israel have been engaged in Russian-brokered prisoner exchange deals this year. Early this month, The New Arab reported the first-ever recorded flight from Tel Aviv to a regime-stronghold in Syria. The Syrian regime is also believed to have killed thousands of Palestinian Syrians in the country, during its brutal assault on pro-democracy movements and armed opposition.
Also reported to be on the agenda during Zarif's trip is Syria's sham elections, with a scheduled meeting with President Bashar al-Assad.
Read also: How the 'Zarifgate tapes' exposed Iran's bitter power struggle ahead of decisive elections
The diplomat's visit comes after Iran’s newly appointed ambassador to Syria, Mahdi Sobhani, met with Faisal Mekdad, the regime's foreign minister on Monday.
Taking over from Javad Torkabadi, Sobhani submitted his "credentials" to Mekdad in their first meeting, hailing Iran's ties with the Syrian regime as "historic, deep-rooted and strategic".
Iran's military and economic support to President Bashar Al-Assad through the country's decades-long civil war has proved indispensable in helping Assad to regain control over most of the country.
For Damascus, it is an alliance second only in importance to Russia.
Sobhani's comments were received warmly by Mekdad, who responded in kind, offering Syria's "full support for Iran's nuclear stands".
Sobhani, who arrived in Syria on Sunday, was appointed on the suggestion of Zarif, as well as the approval of President Hassan Rouhani, according to Iranian state media.
He has previously served as head of strategic planning at Iran's foreign ministry, as well as an official at Iran's mission to Pakistan. He also served separate stints as Iran's deputy ambassador to Turkmenistan and to Ukraine.