[QODLink]
Middle East

UN rescinds Iran's invite for Syria talks

The main western-backed Syrian opposition has now announced that it will attend the peace talks in Geneva.

Last updated: 21 Jan 2014 07:33
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The UN secretary-general has withdrawn his invitation to Iran to join this week's Syria peace talks, saying he is "deeply disappointed" by Iran's statements on Monday.

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon announced the withdrawal less than 24 hours after Ban surprised the US and others by saying he had invited Syria's closest regional ally.

The withdrawn invitation came shortly after Iran's UN ambassador declared the Islamic Republic would not join the Syria talks if required to accept 2012 Geneva roadmap.

"The statement today in Tehran by the foreign ministry spokesperson fell short by some measure of what the secretary-general expected to hear," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, adding that the UN has been in close contact with the US and Russians over the weekend.

Nesirky said senior Iranian officials had assured Ban that Iran understood the terms of his invitation.

"The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment,'' Nesirky said.

"He continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva Communique."

The talks are set to begin Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux, with delegations from the United States, Russia and close to 40 other countries attending. Face-to-face negotiations between the Syrian government and its opponents, the first since the three-year civil war began, start Friday in Geneva.

'Return to focus'

But Ban's announcement on Sunday night that Iran was invited to Montreux angered Syria's main Western-backed opposition group, which over the weekend had announced it would join the talks after intense international pressure.

Russia has said it would be a mistake not to include Iran. "Among the countries also invited are Australia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and many others. So if there is no Iran in this list than I think the peace talks will resemble a hypocrisy," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The US said on Monday it was hopeful after the UN withdrew Iran's invitation and that all parties could 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 towards a long overdue political transition," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki said the purpose of the conference was to implement a 2012 plan to establish a political transition in Syria.

394

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.