Report: Syrian Deputy FM Due in Tehran Today

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad is expected to arrive in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Monday, media reports said.

Report: Syrian Deputy FM Due in Tehran Today

Meqdad is planned to meet and hold talks with Iranian officials in his forthcoming visit, Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV network reported.

The visit will take place ahead of an upcoming peace conference on Syria, known as the Geneva 2 conference.

The much delayed Geneva 2 conference on Syria is set to be held on January 22.

The conference would bring representatives from Syria's government and elements of the opposition to negotiate an end to the fighting that has raged on since March 2011.

Geneva 2 is the second sequel of Geneva 1 conference held in June 2012 in which international parties laid out a peace plan for Syria that calls for a transitional governing body. It left open the question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.

The final communiqué issued on 30 June 2012, following the meeting of the so-called Action Group for Syria called for an immediate cessation of violence and the establishment of a transitional government that could include officials serving under President Bashar al-Assad and members of the opposition.

According to UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, about 30 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, would be invited to the day-long conference on January 22 in the Swiss city of Montreux.

In the meantime, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that Iran could be helpful even on the sidelines of a second round of Geneva talks on Syria.

The top US diplomat made clear that it would be difficult to see how Tehran could be a "ministerial partner" in the upcoming negotiations because it did not participate in the first round of talks.

However, Kerry said Iran can play a constructive role on the sidelines even if it was not a formal participant.

"Now could they contribute from the sidelines? Are their ways for them, conceivably, to weigh in? Can their mission that is already in Geneva... be there in order to help the process? It may be that there are ways that could happen," Kerry said.

In reaction to Kerry’s recent comments, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham on Monday reiterated Tehran’s support for a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and dismissed Washington’s statements on how Iran should participate in the upcoming gathering.

“From the outset of the Syrian crisis, the Islamic Republic of Iran has said that a political solution will be the only option to defuse tension in the country, and has always welcomed strategies that would safeguard the rights of the Syrian people through Syrian-Syrian dialog,” Afkham was quoted by Press TV as saying.

“However, in order to take part in the Geneva 2 conference, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not accept any proposal which does not respect its dignity,” she added.

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