Syrian President Bashar Assad should back away from his violent crackdown on protesters and enter talks with the opposition, Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday.

“There should be talks” between the Syrian government and its opponents, Ahmadinejad said in a live interview in Tehran with Portuguese broadcaster Radiotelevisao Portuguesa.

“A military solution is never the right solution,” Ahmadinejad said, according to a simultaneous Portuguese translation of his comments.

“We believe that freedom and justice and respect for others are the rights of all nations. All governments have to recognize these rights,” he said. “Problems have to be dealt with through dialogue.”