* Tehran positions itself as peacemaker for Syria
* Non-aligned summit chance to flex diplomatic muscle
* Lawmaker visiting Syria says Assad has "defeated" rebels
By Marcus George
DUBAI, Aug 29 Iran will ask developing nations
attending a summit there to back its call for a ceasefire in
Syria, an official said on Wednesday, as Tehran seeks to be seen
as a peacemaker in a region where its Arab neighbours often view
it with suspicion.
Iran says the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit
in its capital proves U.S. efforts to isolate it have failed. A
resolution on Syria would help Tehran argue that its ties with
Damascus are benign.
"Iran's proposal to the meeting of members of the
Non-Aligned Movement to solve the Syria issue is to recommend a
ceasefire and the implementation of national reconciliation
talks in the country," deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir
Abdullahian was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
Tehran has steadfastly backed Assad since an uprising began
last year, describing the president as a key part of its "axis
of resistance" against Israel and Western influence in the
Shi'ite Muslim Iran denies accusations it has helped Assad
crush his opponents - mostly from the majority Sunni community.
Assad is a member of the Minority Alawite faith, an offshoot of
Tehran blames the West and Sunni Muslim Gulf countries of
fuelling Syria's civil war by supporting the rebels.
Iran supported a failed U.N.-Arab League peace plan and says
it should be involved in future international efforts to end the
bloodshed in Syria.
"Bashar al-Assad said that any step that comes from Iran in
order to solve the problem in Syria is trustworthy and
acceptable," said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, a senior parliamentarian
visiting Syria this week.
"Any plan without Bashar al-Assad is destined to fail, just
like up until now it has failed," Boroujerdi told Iran's Fars
news agency, saying Assad had "defeated" the uprising.
Iran had an important role to play in regional issues,
particularly regarding Syria, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
told Iranian journalists on his arrival in Tehran on Wednesday.
He was due to meet both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later in the day.
Iran's proposal for a 3-month ceasefire has been presented
for discussion by NAM foreign ministers, Abdullahian said, and
its outcome will be presented at the end of the summit on
Egyptian president Mohammad Mursi - who is due to attend the
summit as the first Egyptian leader in Iran since the 1979
Islamic revolution - is also expected to lay out further details
of his own plan for Syria.
Last week, he spoke of forming a contact group comprising
Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to resolve the crisis, an
initiative the Iranian leadership is keen to pursue.
"When Mr. Mursi comes to Tehran we'll see whether there will
be other initiatives by NAM. We'll have to cross our fingers and
see how things move," foreign ministry official Mohammad Mehdi
Akhoundzadeh told state television on Tuesday.
But speaking to Reuters earlier this week, Mursi made a call
for Assad to be removed from power, something Tehran would
Mursi's message could also prevent the normalisation of
relations between Cairo and Tehran. Diplomatic relations between
the countries broke down over Egypt's support for the Shah and
its peace agreement with Israel.
In the interview, Mursi avoided answering a question on
whether he intended to upgrade Egypt's relations with Iran but
indicated he would pursue a more balanced foreign policy in