Iraq supports Iran’s participation in Geneva II talks

Baghdad, Jan 15: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif Tuesday met with Iraqi top leaders who confirmed their support to Iran’s participation in Geneva II conference over the Syrian crisis.

“We have discussed the Syrian crisis in details and the attitudes toward Geneva II conference. Our stance in Iraq is that we support the presence of all the concerned states and parties in this crisis, including the Islamic State (of Iran),” Xinhua quoted Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari as saying.

“We think that the participation of all parties, based on the terms of Geneva I (conference), is the best way for this international political action (to succeed),” Zebari said at a joint press conference with Zarif here.

However, Zebari downplayed the importance of the participating parties. “This conference is not for (other) countries; it is for the Syrians themselves. Perhaps the participation of (other) countries is rather a protocol nature.”

Zarif said: “We have announced previously that if an invitation to Iran would respect the Iranian people, we would accept such an invitation, but unfortunately there are pressures exerted on some parties to put preconditions for us (to attend the meeting).”

The Iranian foreign minister later met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on the latest development in the region and the Syrian crisis, in particular the Geneva II conference, according to a statement issued by Maliki’s office.

“The prime minister stressed that all parties without exception must take responsibility in finding a peaceful solution to the worsening crisis in Syria,” Maliki said.

“The situation calls for the mobilisation of efforts and the participation of all effective parties to resolve the crisis,” Maliki said, adding, “No crises in the region can be resolved without resolving the Syrian one.”

Earlier in the day, Zarif and his accompanying delegation arrived in Baghdad and were received by his Iraqi counterpart Zebari.

Relations between the Shiite Muslim country of Iran and the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq have been picked up considerably since Iraqi former President Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime was ousted in a US-led invasion in 2003.

Iraq and Iran fought a bloody eight-year war in 1980s, resulting in the loss of one million lives.