Iran submitted last month a peace plan to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to try and end his country's four-year war, a senior Iranian official said on Thursday, according to AFP.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian however told a news conference in Damascus that any initiative to end the conflict would have to recognize "the pivotal role of Assad."
The peace plan was submitted to Assad by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during a visit to Damascus on August 12, he said.
Assad "welcomed it as a constructive political initiative from Iran, and the two sides agree to follow up on these preliminary ideas via the two foreign ministers," Amir-Abdollahian was quoted as having said.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Moqdad, he said Iran was optimistic about the "success" of the peace plan.
Amir-Abdollahian, whose country is a key ally of Assad's embattled regime, gave no further details.
But he stressed that for any peace initiative to bear fruit, Assad must be part of the solution.
"Any successful plan to find a solution to the Syrian crisis must take into consideration the central role of the Syrian people in deciding their future and fate, and the role of the government and of Assad are essential and pivotal in the potential solution," he said.
Assad's departure is the top demand of Syria's opposition in exile, the National Coalition, which has insisted that the president should have no role in a future Syria.
The Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel said Iran's initiative includes a call for "an immediate ceasefire", the formation of a "unity government" and "constitutional amendments".
According to the network, Tehran's initiative also stipulates that elections must be held in Syria and monitored by international observers.
The UN Security Council recently adopted a new push for peace talks in Syria, which was also endorsed by Russia, another key ally of the Damascus regime, and the other 14 member states.
The peace initiative, set to begin in September, would set up four working groups to address safety and protection, counterterrorism, political and legal issues and reconstruction.
Iran later welcomed the UN peace plan, saying it was “a step by regional and international players toward a better understanding of the reality on the ground and on the political level.”
That peace push was proposed by the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, and Amir-Abdollahian said he would brief de Mistura, whom he met in Beirut on Wednesday, on the Iranian plan.
More than 240,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which began with anti-government protests in March 2011 but spiralled into a complex civil war after a government crackdown.
Iran is Assad's key regional ally, providing him with financial and military support.
Iran’s former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops, though Assad a few months ago denied there were any Iranian troops in Syria.