Syrian opposition still not committed to peace talks: Iran

MOSCOW Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:15am EST

Iran's Deputy Minister for Arab and Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian attends a news conference in Moscow, September 10, 2013. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Iran's Deputy Minister for Arab and Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian attends a news conference in Moscow, September 10, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Iran believes an international peace conference on Syria can be held soon but that Syrian opposition groups have yet to commit fully to the meeting, Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said on Tuesday.

The United Nations hopes the "Geneva 2" conference, which Moscow and Washington are trying to arrange, can convene in mid-December to try to end more than 2-1/2 years of civil war in Syria.

The proposed conference has been delayed for months by dissension within opposition ranks, disagreements over whether President Bashar al-Assad should play any future role in Syria and disputes over whether Iran should be invited.

Russia wants Iran to take part but the United States, Saudi Arabia and the main opposition Syrian National Coalition have been against this. Amir-Abdollahian did not make clear after his meetings in Moscow whether progress had been made on this issue.

He said he had had "very important and useful" talks with Russia Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as well as a Syrian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

"It seems we are nearing the holding of the Geneva 2 conference," Amir-Abdollahian told a news conference via a translator, but added: "We believe there is still no full readiness among the (Syrian) opposition to take part."

Russia and Iran have been Assad's staunchest supporters in his struggle to crush an uprising which began in March 2011 with peaceful protests whose violent suppression eventually ignited an armed insurrection that has cost well over 100,000 lives.

U.S. and Russian envoys are due to meet international Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on November 25 to discuss prospects for the Geneva peace conference, which is supposed to build on an agreement forged by world powers in the same city in June 2012.

That conference called for a political transition in Syria, but left open the question of whether Assad would have any role.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (2)
kenradke11 wrote:
Assad will leave one way or another. He will pay for his crimes against humanity and he will rot in jail at least!

Nov 19, 2013 5:52am EST  --  Report as abuse
JackHerer wrote:
Russia only wants Iran as part of the peace negotiations, because it makes those negotiations all the more difficult to achieve.

The rotten, corrupt economy of Russia needs oil prices kept as high as possible. It’s why they’ve armed Assad to the hilt, and stoutly defended him against even the mildest condemnation, regardless of the terrible suffering and damage which has ensued by propping up this selfish, cruel dictator.

Conflict in the Middle East means artificially high oil prices, which are needed for Putin to waste eye watering sums on pet projects like the Winter Olympics next year – the most expensive in history by far, even though it’s only a 2 week winter one, which most of the world usually ignore.

Stalin-esque show pieces don’t come cheap, and Putin doesn’t care the slightest jot if the shocking suffering of the Syrian people is the price to pay for them.

Nov 19, 2013 7:40am EST  --  Report as abuse
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