UN chief withdraws Iran invitation to Geneva 2 peace talks on Syria | News | DW | 20.01.2014
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UN chief withdraws Iran invitation to Geneva 2 peace talks on Syria

The UN secretary-general has withdrawn an invitation for Iran to attend Geneva 2 talks on Syria's war. Plans for negotiations fell into disarray after Iran accepted the UN's invitation to attend

Late Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon withdrew his invitation for Iran to attend the Geneva 2 peace talks on Syria's civil war.

Syria's main opposition body, the National Coalition, had issued an ultimatum to Ban to retract his invitation and given a deadline of 1900 UTC.

Following Iran's exclusion, the National Coalition confirmed that it would participate in the talks.

Ahead of the withdrawal, Anas Abdah, a member of the National Coalition's political committee, had told the Reuters news agency that the coalition would accept Iran's participation only if Iran "publicly states that it is withdrawing its forces, committing to the Geneva 1 agreement in full and committing to implementing any results of Geneva 2."

The coalition had threatened to withdraw from the talks.

Washington had said that it would accept Iran's participation in the talks only if it first declared its support for the political transition plan agreed at Geneva peace talks in June 2012. That plan foresees the establishment of a transitional government in Syria - a step, which would require Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to relinquish power.

Previous assurances

On Sunday, Ban had said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had assured him that Tehran supported the 2012 transition plan for Syria.

"He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June 2012, Geneva communique, " Ban said.

"Foreign Minister Zarif and I agreed that the goal of the negotiations is to establish by mutual consent a transitional governing body with a full executive powers," he added.

EU support for Geneva 2

European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday expressed their support for the Geneva 2 conference, describing it as a "a first step" in a process that must lead to a "genuine political transition."

In a joint statement, they stressed that the aim of the talks was "the formation by mutual consent of a Transitional Governing Body with full executive powers, including over security, military and intelligence."

Meanwhile, Assad has ruled out even sharing power with the Syrian opposition as a way to make peace. In an exclusive interview with the AFP news agency, Assad said the peace talks in Switzerland must discuss "the fight against terrorism" if they are to be of any value. He also said there was a "good chance" he would run again in the next scheduled presidential election in June.

pfd/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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