“In view of the special conditions faced by Syria, Iran will transfer its experience, especially concerning sanctions, to Syria,” Mohammad Reza Aref, Iran’s first vice president, was quoted as saying after meeting Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otari.

“At this sensitive point, the two countries require a united front due to numerous challenges. We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats,” Mr Aref said.

The announcement did not specifically mention the challenges, but both countries are under US economic sanctions and the targets of intense American pressure.

Mr Otari concurred with Mr Aref, saying: “The challenges we face in Syria and Iran require us to be in one front to confront all the challenges imposed (on us) by others.”

Iran, which US President George W Bush has labelled as part of an “axis of evil”, along with North Korea and pre-war Iraq, was named an “outpost of tyranny” last month by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Washington has accused Iran of seeking to produce nuclear weapons, while relations with Syria have deteriorated, especially since Monday’s assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Many Lebanese blame Monday’s car bombing in Beirut on Syria, but the Syrian government has denied responsibility.

Washington has recalled its ambassador from Syria in an apparent response to Mr Hariri’s killing.

Washington is also considering new sanctions against Syria because of its refusal to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon.

US Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, visiting Beirut for Mr Hariri’s funeral, called for a “complete and immediate withdrawal”.

Syrian Expatriate Affairs Minister Buthaina Shaaban said she is “baffled” by the US reaction to the killing of Mr Hariri.

“To point to Syria in a terrorist act that aims at destabilising both Syria and Lebanon is truly like blaming the US for 9/11,” she told the BBC.

The minister said Mr Hariri had been a “great ally” to Syria and his death was “a scandal against Syria and against Lebanon”.

Washington also accuses Syria of aiding anti-Israeli militants and supporting insurgents in Iraq.

The Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi accused the US of flying surveillance ‘spy’ drones over its nuclear sites.

Washington has hinted it may take military action against Iran over its nuclear program, which the US says is aimed at producing a bomb.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, has said Iran was just six months away from making a bomb.
Iran says its nuclear program is not military.

To stave off the threat of UN sanctions, as demanded by Israel and the United States, Britain, France and Germany are trying to convince Iran to stop uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and political rewards.

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