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Iran’s absence at Syria talks will be regretted — Zarif

By AFP - Jan 13,2014 - Last updated at Jan 13,2014

BEIRUT — Parties working to prevent Iran from participating in Syria peace talks in Switzerland next week will regret denying Tehran a role, Iran’s foreign minister said on Monday.

“These parties will regret all the efforts they have undertaken to prevent the participation of Iran to find a solution and an end to the Syrian crisis,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a news conference with his Lebanese counterpart in Beirut.

Tehran is the staunchest regional ally of the Syrian regime, which is scheduled to sit down with the opposition at peace talks in the Swiss town of Montreux on January 22.

But it has not been invited to the talks, though Damascus has said it should be and the Iranian government has said it would be willing to if it is invited without preconditions.

“When it comes to Iran’s participation in Geneva II, Iran rejects all forms of preconditions on its participation,” Zarif said.

“If the Islamic Republic of Iran receives a formal invitation, according to the criteria adopted for the invitations to the other parties, without preconditions, it will participate,” he said.

The Syrian opposition accuses Iran of supplying the regime with weapons and funding to allow it to put down an uprising that began in March 2011 and has evolved into a brutal civil war.

Syria’s government has said it will attend the Montreux talks, but insists President Bashar Assad’s departure from power will not be on the table.

The opposition says Assad has no place in Syria’s future and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday that Iran could attend the talks if it embraced political transition in Syria.

Iran has said Assad’s future should be decided at the ballot box and Zarif warned Monday that outside parties should only play the role of mediators.

“The Syrian crisis must be resolved by the Syrian people and other parties should at the very least help to find a political solution and not act as judges imposing conditions for dialogue,” said Zarif.


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