More than 30 UN member states have been invited to participate in the international conference of peace on Syria Preparations for the long-sought international conference on Syria, but Iran, the main Syrian ally, is not among them. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in favour of inviting Iran, “but discussions between the initiating States have not produced final results yet,” his spokesperson said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are to meet on 13 January, and “we very much hope they will reach agreement on Iran’s participation,” said Mr. Ban, adding that the active support of regional powers is “critical”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a press conference recently that “Iran could participate very easily if they would simply accept publicly the Geneva I premise on which Geneva II is based. (…) We are going to implement Geneva I, which calls for a transition government by mutual consent with full executive authority; and if Iran doesn’t support that, it’s very difficult to see how they’re going to be a ministerial partner in the process.”

“Now, could they contribute from the sidelines? — he added — Are there ways for them conceivably to weigh in? Can their mission that is already in Geneva be there in order to help the process? It may be that there are ways that that could happen. But that has to be determined by the Secretary-General and it has to be determined by Iranian intentions themselves. But in terms of a formal invitation or participation, that is for those who support the Geneva I implementation, and that’s the purpose of the Geneva conference.”

In a response to these remarks an Irani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that her country “has always announced its readiness to participate without preconditions.” And that to participate from the sidelines would go against Iran’s honour.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is sending invitations to the list of invitees determined at the 20 December Trilateral meeting between Russia, the United States and the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.

The conference, to be held in Switzerland, will also include the three other permanent members of the Security Council – China, France and the United Kingdom, joining Russia and the US – as well as representatives of the League of Arab States, the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and 26 other countries, Mr. Brahimi announced last month.

Too much countries to reach an effective agreement in a couple of days for such a complex issue as the fierce war going on in Syria.

According to the UN press service, the goal of the conference is to achieve a political solution to the conflict through a comprehensive agreement between the Syrian Government and the opposition for the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué, adopted after the first international meeting on the issue on 30 June 2012, which called for the creation of a transitional government that would lead to the holding of elections.

The UN Secretary-General will chair the event, which will be held in two parts. Following its opening session in Montreux on 22 January, it will then move on 24 January to the Palais des Nations in Geneva where Mr. Brahimi will facilitate the talks between the two Syrian parties, always according to the UN press services. That second part would be the most interesting and decisive of the conference.

Given that the opposition groups seeking to oust President Bashar Al-Assad have yet to name who will attend on their behalf, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson reiterated the UN’s call for a “broadly representative” delegation as soon as possible, so as to allow sufficient time to prepare for negotiations.

About Olga Brajnović

Journalist. In my fifties. I've worked for 26 years in a newspaper in Spain. I worked for two years as a stringer and correspondent in the US, and went as a special envoy to other places like the Balkans. Sea lover. Avid reader. Classic Music enthusiast.

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Dialog and diplomacy, Middle East, World and Politics

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