Russia says Iran crucial to success of Syria talks

News Brief – June 26, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that Iran’s participation was crucial to the success of a meeting on the escalating conflict in Syria planned by the U.N.
Arab league peace envoy Kofi Annan has also indicated he wants Iran to participate in the talks in Geneva this weekend.
Lavrov says he will attend the international conference, which is being organized to take place on June 30 in Geneva, regardless of whether representatives from Iran were present. However, he stressed that Iran’s participation was crucial to finding a solution.
“We are ready to go. Iran must be present. Otherwise the circle of participants will be incomplete and will not gather everybody who has influence on all Syrian sides,” Lavrov told reporters.
“I think it (Iran) must be invited. There is an understanding (about this) among those who are most actively organizing it (the conference),” he said.
Russia’s foreign minister’s comments echo those of Vladimir Putin who said excluding Iran from forthcoming diplomatic exchanges would only “complicate the process”.
The U.S. however is adamant that Iran be excluded from the talks.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Iran’s participation would be a “red line” for the United States because it has been overt in its support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
This ignores the Gulf States financial assistance to Syrian opposition groups or reports that the U.S. is covertly helping supply opposition groups with arms and ammunition.
Meaning that the U.S. is not exactly an impartial bystander in dealing with Syria. Reports that the U.S. is covertly assisting armed Syrian opposition groups may also explain why it opposes Iran’s participation in the forthcoming talks.
Despite Lavrov’s urging Iran’s inclusion in the talks, the U.S. is opposed because Iran could help broker a deal over Syria and that’s the last thing Washington wants.
Not only would it lend legitimacy to Tehran it would also hinder U.S. plans for regime change in Syria; hence Secretary of State Clinton’s opposition to Iran inclusion in the talks.

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