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Geneva 2: UN retracts Iran's invite, Syrian opposition confirms attendance

Published time: January 20, 2014 20:48
Edited time: January 21, 2014 07:33

President Bashar al-Assad (R) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (AFP Photo / HO / SANA)

The UN has withdrawn an invitation for Iran to the January 22 Geneva 2 peace conference after Syria’s main Western-backed opposition group threatened to pull out of talks if the Islamic Republic attends.

A UN spokesperson announced Monday that UN chief Ban Ki-moon has withdrawn his invitation for Iran.

"[Ban] continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva communique," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said. "Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, [Ban] has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran's participation."

Following the announcement Syria’s main opposition group - Syrian National Coalition – has confirmed its participation in the peace talks.

"We appreciate the United Nations and [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon's understanding of our position. We think they have taken the right decision. Our participation is confirmed for 22 January," Monzer Akbik, chief of staff of the president of the National Coalition told Reuters.

Washington said it is hopeful that the sides can now refocus their efforts to end the Syrian civil war.

"We are hopeful that, in the wake of today's announcement, all parties can now return to focus on the task at hand, which is bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and beginning a process toward a long overdue political transition," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Meanwhile the Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, has expressed doubts that the Geneva 2 conference will settle the conflict in Syria. “I’m not very optimistic that the Geneva 2 conference might solve anything in Syria,” the diplomat told Itar-Tass on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, the Syrian National Coalition gave the UN until 1900 GMT to withdraw the invite that it sent to Tehran a day earlier and that was accepted by the Islamic Republic. Otherwise, the coalition said, it would boycott the meeting.

The opposition group said it would agree to Iran's participation only if it “publicly states that it is withdrawing its forces, committing to the Geneva 1 agreement in full and committing to implementing any results of Geneva 2,” Anas Abdah, a member of the Coalition's political committee, told Reuters earlier.

Iran is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and its attendance of the peace talks has been prompting heated debates throughout the preparation period.

Iran maintained it would take a seat at the talks only if no preconditions are set. Several other powers, including the US, insisted that Tehran should agree that the premise of the peace talks is to pave the way for establishing a transitional governing body in Syria, which would remove Assad from power.

Moscow has insisted on Iran’s participation in the talks and said that not inviting the republic would be “an unforgivable mistake.

Those who question such a need are clearly not interested in a fair resolution of the Syrian crisis,” Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said at a Security Council meeting on Monday, cited Itar-Tass. He added that it would be “a big mistake” if the Coalition decided against joining in the Geneva 2 talks.

Sunday’s last-minute invite by UN chief Ban Ki-moon sparked a confrontation with Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and France.

The American State Department said it would accept the invitation on the condition Iran expresses “explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué including the establishment of a transitional governing body by mutual consent with full executive authorities.”

The Geneva communiqué outlines key steps and measures for a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. The document, which was agreed upon at the first Syrian peace conference in June 2012, proposed a transitional government to be elected by mutual consent between the Assad government and the opposition. It was vague on the fate of the Syrian president.

Ban said that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had assured him that Tehran understands the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the Geneva peace plan.

However, Iran's deputy foreign minister Hosein Amirabdollahian voiced a different position on Monday.

Setting such a condition to accept the Geneva 1 agreement for attending the Geneva 2 meeting is rejected and unacceptable,” he said, as cited by ISNA news agency. “Iran will attend the talks without any precondition, based on an invitation by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.”

Comments (59)


Aleem Baksh 22.01.2014 22:13

The Sryian coalition are living well, eating well and sleeping well in a foreign country, unlike the people they say they represent. They themselves cannot unite, how can they represent their country ?? Asad should just hold elections from within Syria with representatives from all parts of Syria and exclude the coalition hypocrites. As for UN, they have to ask for permission from USA to get Iran on board the talks, and I suppose that permission has been declined, as Iran does not meet the criteria !!! What criteria >?? and who set these criteria ??


fran7 22.01.2014 14:15

Mr Assad is the legitimate leader of Syria, Iran is a stable neighbour and is a major player in the middle east therefore it is totally wrong for Ban Ki-moon to not allow Iran to contribute to the peace talks.
On the other hand the bunch of jokers who call themselves the SNC have no control of events in Syria or the numerous bands of anarchist rebels they say they represent?
USA should not be backing the cannibal rebels who are responsible for all the death and destruction in Syria But should instead be telling Israel to leave the Palestinian lands they are currently occupying illegally or their money aid will cease.


Murray Bernie 22.01.2014 00:12

Russia,Iran,China need to forge closer ties militarily, it really is their best interests.It is my belief all 3 are in serious danger in the long term.

In my opinion the US is actively trying to instigate conflicts all over the World to boost their ailing economy and obtain natural resources. Be it in Syria to get at Iran. Ukraine to point missiles at Russia, even looking to instigate conflict in the South China sea with China over a useless rock.

There is safety in numbers.

Th e United Nations is now part off a serious problem. It is morally corrupt and unfit for purpose unless your a friend off the United States.

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