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UN's Ban withdraws Iran's invite to Syria peace talks

Ban Ki-moon withdraw offer for Iran to attend Syria peace negotiations after Tehran declared it does not support the June 2012 political transition deal

Reuters
Latest Update: 01.20.14, 23:26 / Israel News

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday withdrew an offer for Iran to attend Syria peace negotiations after Tehran declared it does not support the June 2012 political transition deal that is the basis for the talks.

 

 

"He (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."

 

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Ban said earlier that Iran's public statement that it did not support the 2012 Geneva deal calling for a transitional government for Syria was "not consistent" with assurances he had been given by Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

 

After Ban's announcement Syria's western-backed opposition National Coalition confirmed it would take part in international talks on January 22 after an invitation to Iran to attend the talks was retracted by the United Nations on Monday.

 

"We appreciate the United Nations and 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.

 

Another coalition member, Anas Abdah, said they would send a list of conference delegates to the United Nations later on Monday.

 

The US welcomed the UN's withdrawal of Iran's invite.

 

Earlier Monday, senior US officials said Iran has still not met the criteria to participate in an upcoming international conference on Syria hosted by the United Nations, and its invitation to attend must be withdrawn unless it fully and publicly endorses the aims of the meeting.

 

Speaking to reporters in a conference call, the officials said public statements from Iran since it was invited to the conference by the United Nations on Sunday fall "well short" of what is required for Tehran's participation. They said that they expect the United Nations to reevaluate and reverse its decision unless Iran changes course.

 

The officials declined to speculate as to what would happen if Iran does not meet the criteria and the invitation is not withdrawn. However, they said the United States would not see the point in holding the conference, known as Geneva II, unless all participants accepted its goals.

 

The officials said the UN had been told of the US position both privately and publicly and that Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken several times with UN chief Ban Ki-moon several times over the weekend.

 

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name. But, their comments tracked with a statement the State Department issued on Sunday after Ban announced that he had invited Iran and before the Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday that Iran would attend without preconditions.

 

Monday's statement from Iran "falls well short of meeting the bar" for participation, one of the US officials said. The US has long insisted that in order to participate in the conference, countries must accept the so-called "Geneva Communique," which was agreed to in 2012 and calls for the formation of a transitional government for Syria that would pave the way for democratic elections.

 

The composition of that interim government would be determined by mutual consent of both the Syrian opposition and representatives of President Bashar Assad's government, a condition that the US maintains precludes Assad from a role in the transition.

 

The officials restated US complaints about Iran's role in Syria's civil war, including arming Assad's forces and sending fighters to assist his side.

 

They said Iran's actions continued to exacerbate sectarian tensions and the deteriorating situation on the ground rather than easing them.

 

First Published: 01.20.14, 17:50

 

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