Russia criticises Syrian opposition for not attending talks

Moscow, Jan 21: The Syrian opposition’s reluctance to see Iran at the scheduled international peace conference in Geneva is inappropriate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

If Iran does not participate in the peace conference or, the Geneva-II, the entire meeting would “be looking like profanation”, the minister said, noting that over 40 countries had received invitations to the talks, Xinhua reported.

“The (Syrian) government sits at the negotiating table with no preconditions, so do those countries which directly finance and arm the opposition. Now what, the government must demand these countries do not participate?,” Lavrov said.

The meaning of negotiations is to put together all parties that can help to solve the problem, he added.

Earlier in the day, Syria’s main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, said it would suspend its participation in the Geneva-II conference unless the UN withdrew its invitation to Iran.

The Istanbul-based coalition, which decided on its participation Saturday, threatened to pull out from the peace conference shortly after Iran was invited to the meeting, which is due to kick off Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux before moving to Geneva.

The peace conference is aimed at bringing together the warring sides in Syria to hammer out a political solution to the civil war, which has killed over 115,000 people over almost three years.

IANS