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On his way to the U.N. General Assembly, Iran’s president stopped in Syria Saturday for talks with an important ally in Tehran’s confrontation with the West.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said before the talks that he and President Bashar Assad of Syria would discuss key areas of conflict and tension in the Middle East, including Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He also told Iranian state TV Friday that he and Assad would discuss “the Westerner’s moves in the region,” an apparent reference to the United States.

“We have to be ready and in harmony,” he said in the state TV interview, without elaborating.

Washington is at odds with Iran over its nuclear program, which it fears is aimed at making weapons, and with a military buildup by Tehran that it believes threatens the United States’ Arab allies in the region as well as Israel. Iran says its nuclear activity is only for producing energy.

The U.S., seeking to isolate Iran, has tried to pry Syria away from its alliance with Tehran.

Syria and Iran are both under U.S. pressure because of their support for anti-Israel militant groups. The U.S. also accuses Syria of secret nuclear activities, which Damascus denies.

The two leaders stressed the need for Iraqi politicians to overcome arguments that have delayed formation of a new government there after national elections in March, according to Syria’s state news agency, SANA.

Ahmadinejad also called the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks — revived this month with Washington’s mediation — a failure, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV. He said Israel had no place in the future of the region.

The Iranian president was also to stop in Algeria before heading to New York.AP

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