UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iran is ready to help international envoy Kofi Annan’s bid to bring peace to Syria, but if some countries do not want Tehran at a meeting of global powers then “that’s their problem,” Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said on Wednesday.
The meeting, called by Annan, will take place in Geneva on Saturday to work out a way to end the worsening conflict in Syria and bring about a political transition.
The United States, Britain and France have accused Iran of helping President Bashar al-Assad’s government to commit atrocities in its campaign to crush the 16-month-old uprising against his rule. They have also accused Tehran of covertly developing atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies.
“A very important fact that cannot be ignored by anybody is the influence and constructive role that the Islamic Republic of Iran has in the region,” Khazaee told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.
“If some powers do not want to benefit from this influence and constructive role, that’s their problem and this is another indication of actually neglecting the realities on the ground,” he said. “The solution ... is the cooperation among everybody.”
Annan has invited foreign ministers from the five permanent U.N. Security Council members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - as well as the European Union, Syria’s neighbors Turkey and Iraq, and Kuwait and Qatar.
Along with Iran, Annan also made no mention of Saudi Arabia in his statement on Wednesday announcing the meeting and the invitees.
“From the beginning we have supported Mr Kofi Annan’s plan and we believe that that’s the best way to resolve the issues in Syria. So any kind of consultations by Kofi Annan with the Islamic Republic of Iran is welcomed anytime,” Khazaee said.
“By not assisting foreign groups, opposition groups in Syria and by avoiding foreign intervention in Syria we believe that Syrian people (will) enjoy a better life and have reform smoothly in their country,” he said.
(This story corrects reason Western nations object to Iran’s attendance in paragraph 3)
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Christopher Wilson