UN Retracts Iran Invitation to Syria Peace Conference

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon withdrew an invitation to Iran to take part in the forthcoming Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria after Iranian officials rejected any precondition for attending the talks.

UN Retracts Iran Invitation to Syria Peace Conference

Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky announced at a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday that Iran was no longer welcome at the initial day of the talks in the Swiss city of Montreux on Wednesday.

This comes after the UN chief had on Sunday officially invited Iran to attend the first day of the conference on January 22, when preliminary talks in a meeting of foreign ministers are due to open in the Swiss city.

Thereafter, Iran’s foreign ministry spokeswoman on Monday reiterated that Tehran would never accept any precondition for attending the Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria, noting that the country will take part in the gathering at the formal invitation of the United Nations.

“(As) we have announced earlier, we do not accept any precondition for the attendance and participation at the Geneva 2 (conference), and according to the official invitation, Iran will take part in the conference without preconditions,” Marziyeh Afkham said on Monday.

Explaining why the UN chief decided to rescind the invitation to Iran to the Geneva 2 conference, Nesirky said, “The secretary-general is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment."

"He (Ban) continues to urge Iran to join the global consensus behind the Geneva (1) communiqué. Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, he has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran's participation,” Ban’s spokesman added.

The Geneva 1 final communiqué, issued on 30 June 2012, outlines measures for a transition of power in Syria, and its key demand means Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will have to step down.

But Iranian officials have on different occasions made clear that they would not endorse the conclusion of the previous conference as a basis for the upcoming talks.

Ban Ki-moon’s change of heart is believed to come under the influence of the US, as he had on Sunday described Iran as “one of the important neighboring countries” that needs to participate in the long-awaited Geneva 2 peace talks.

But the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition were strongly opposed to Iran’s participation in the event.

The US said the UN must take back its invitation unless Tehran publicly backs the 2012 roadmap to establish a transitional government in Syria, and the so-called Syrian National Council (SNC) threatened to skip the Geneva 2 conference entirely.

In the meantime, Russia insisted that Iran should attend the gathering, noting that outsiders should not force Syria’s legitimate president, Assad, to step down.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the upcoming international talks about the Syrian crisis will resemble “hypocrisy” without Iran's participation.

"Among the countries also invited (to the Geneva 2 conference) 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… I think the peace talks will resemble hypocrisy," Lavrov said on Monday.

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