Volume. 11893

Iran not yet invited to Syria peace talks: UN
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_02_am2b(2).jpgTEHRAN – Iran is not among the “first round” of nations invited to attend Syria peace talks in Switzerland later this month, AP on Tuesday quoted a UN spokesman as saying.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began sending out invitations Monday. UN spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed that Iran is not among them, but he added, “The secretary general is in favor of inviting Iran.”
Invitations to the talks are subject to approval by the “initiating states,” Russia and the United States, Haq said. They approved the list at a Dec. 20 meeting with UN officials.
Haq did not name the other invitees, but the UN said they included Syrian and other international participants.
The United States and Russia have not yet agreed on Iran’s role in the talks, but Haq says the United Nations hopes that can be resolved at a Jan. 13 meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Kerry on Sunday told reporters that Iran could play a constructive role in finding a resolution to Syria’s civil war, even if Tehran is not a full participant in the peace talks.
The U.S. has objected to Iran’s participation because it hasn’t publicly endorsed the principles from an earlier peace conference that called for a transitional government in Syria.
“If Iran doesn’t support that, it’s difficult to see how they are going to be a ministerial partner in the process,” Kerry said. 
About two dozen nations plan to send foreign ministers to a daylong gathering Jan. 22 at a Montreux hotel, with Ban presiding. Syria’s warring factions have been invited.
The peace talks will start Jan. 24 at the UN’s headquarters in Geneva with meetings between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s delegation and Syrian opposition groups. The meetings will be moderated by the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
Assad’s government has said the president will not surrender power and may run again in elections due later this year.

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