ANKARA (Reuters) - Iran said a meeting of Syrian opposition figures in Riyadh will cause failure of Syrian peace talks among major Western and Middle Eastern countries, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a senior official as saying on Thursday.
“The peace talks are an opportunity to find a political solution to end the war in Syria ... such meetings in Riyadh ... are aimed at harming the Vienna talks,” deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Fars.
“The meeting in Riyadh ... will cause the failure of Vienna peace talks on Syria and it is not part of Vienna agreement.”
Iran’s Sunni regional rival, Saudi Arabia, has invited 65 Syrian opposition figures to gather in Riyadh to try to bring together rival groups ahead of next round of Syrian peace talks.
The first two rounds of the Syria peace talks were held in Vienna. In a November meeting on Syria in Vienna, participants agreed on a political process leading to elections in Syria within two years, but differences remained on key issues such as President Bashar al-Assad’s fate.
The United States, its Gulf allies and Turkey say Assad, whose crackdown on initially peaceful protests in 2011 triggered the war, must step down as part of any eventual peace deal.
Iran and Russia back the Syrian president, saying that global powers should not impose their political will on Syria.
“Only Syrian people should decide about their country’s fate,” said Amirabdollahian, echoing Iran’s official stance.
The disunity among the Syrian opposition has been a hurdle in seeking a peaceful solution to the Syrian war that has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Sandra Maler