Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a speech Thursday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, said the Syrian people must be allowed to determine their own future via "free" elections.
"The best solution is a free election in Syria," said Rouhani. "We must all respect whatever the people vote for. No government or outside power can make decisions for another country and for the nation of Syria. We must all help the people."
Iran backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and on Wednesday was shut out of a U.N.-sponsored peace conference on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland, because of its refusal to endorse a framework for a transition from Assad rule.
During his WEF speech, Rouhani also stated that Iran was ready to honor a deal to curb its nuclear program.
Iran is "fully prepared and ready to engage with all neighboring countries" to reach solutions on issues, including business ventures, environmental concerns, Palestinian rights, Persian Gulf security and Syria's humanitarian crisis, Rouhani said.
The Iranian president said he hopes Iran's historical deep economic ties with Europe will normalized, and he suggested that negotiations with the United States could pave the way to better relations. He reiterated that Iran has no intention of acquiring nuclear weapons but has the right to continue pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni also attended the weeklong gathering in Davos.
Netanyahu did not mince words, telling the forum in a speech that Iran is a concern for many Arab governments, just as it is for Israel.
"They say they oppose nuclear weapons. Why do they insist on maintaining the ballistic missiles and the plutonium, and the advanced centrifuges that are only used for the production of nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said.
"I wish it was real. It isn't real," he said.
Netanyahu has been a fierce critic of the U.S.-led efforts to curb Iran's nuclear program, saying they don't go far enough to put the brakes on a country that supports Hezbollah, the militant group that has been vying with Israel for control of the region's power balance.
The Israeli leader also blamed Iran for being involved in the violence in Syria.
"Iran, with the Revolutionary Guards on the ground in Syria, is facilitating the mass slaughter," Netanyahu said, referring to Iran's elite military unit.
Al Jazeera and wire services