|Source dismisses reports Iran has been invited to Syria talks||
TEHRAN – An informed source at the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Friday dismissed the news reports that Iran had been invited to a peace conference on Syria next month.
AFP on the same day quoted diplomats as saying that Iran and Saudi Arabia were among more than 30 countries slated to attend the peace conference.
“At the moment there are 32 countries invited, but that number may increase because everyone wants to come,” an Arab diplomat told AFP.
“In addition to the five permanent members of the Security Council (the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China), there are the neighboring countries, as well as Saudi Arabia and Iran, and also Germany and Italy and others.”
The so-called Geneva 2 conference, a follow-up to a 2012 meeting, is aimed at mapping out a political transition to end nearly three years of fighting that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced millions.
But the January 22 meeting will actually be held at the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux because of a shortage of hotel rooms in Geneva, which will be hosting a luxury watch fair, a Western diplomat told AFP.
Iran is a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad, while Saudi Arabia has strongly backed the Sunni-led rebels.
Most countries will be represented by their top diplomats and “each minister can speak for five minutes,” the Arab diplomat said.
The Syrian government and the opposition will each send delegations to the meeting, and will hold bilateral talks hosted by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on January 24 in Geneva.
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