MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti) – This week’s peace talks in Geneva on the ongoing conflict in Syria will be a sham without Iran’s participation, Russia’s foreign minister said Monday as the main Syrian opposition group threatened to boycott talks attended by the Iranians.
“Forty countries have been invited to the Geneva 2 talks … And if Iran is excluded from the list then the conference will resemble something profane,” Sergei Lavrov said.
“Iran, of course, along with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq, is one of the countries interested in resolving the situation without further damaging the stability of this important region of the world.”
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, announced Sunday at a news conference that an invitation from the UN to attend the conference had been extended to Iran.
The Syrian National Coalition, the country’s Western-backed opposition group, said Monday it would not attend if representatives from Iran were at the meeting.
The United States insisted that Iran has failed to meet the requirements for participants, which include supporting the establishment of a transitional government.
“If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communique, the invitation must be rescinded,” the US State Department said in a statement Sunday.
The US reiterated its concerns about Iran’s continuing support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
The talks are scheduled to begin Wednesday in Montreux before moving to Geneva. Representatives from several dozen countries as well as the EU, UN, Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are expected to attend.