Iran receives invitation for Geneva II meet on Syria

Tehran, Jan 20: Iran has received UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s invitation to attend the Geneva II talks on the Syrian crisis, an Iranian foreign ministry official said Monday.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Iranian deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, however, declined to comment on whether Tehran would attend the talks, Press TV reported.

Ban announced Sunday that he had invited Iran to take part in the Geneva II conference.

Geneva II is an international conference to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria and is set to begin in Switzerland Jan 22. For months, UN, US and Russian diplomats have struggled to persuade both the Syrian regime and rebels opposed to it to attend the conference.

“As I have said repeatedly, I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis,” Ban told a news conference at the UN headquarters in New York.

Ban and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have discussed the Syrian crisis and agreed upon the implementation of the June 30, 2012 communiqué, including the action plan, the UN chief said.

“Foreign Minister Zarif and I agree that the goal of the negotiations is to establish, by mutual consent, a transitional governing body with full executive powers… He assured me again and again that Iran, if they are invited, then they will play a very positive and constructive role,” Ban said.

The Geneva communiqué calls for a transitional government in Syria without any role envisaged for President Bashar Al-Assad in the country’s future.

Meanwhile, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces threatened to pull out from the Geneva II meet unless UN withdrew the invitation to Iran.

The US Sunday said the UN invitation to Iran to participate in the Syria peace conference should be rescinded unless Tehran “fully and publicly” accepted the Geneva I communique.

“The US views the UN secretary general’s invitation to Iran to attend the upcoming Geneva conference as conditioned on Iran’s explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communique,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Iranian officials said Tehran would accept no precondition to participate in the Geneva II conference.