Russia warns Iran’s absence from Syria talks ‘unforgivable mistake’

Zee News, India — Jan 20, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said the absence of Iran from this week’s peace talks on the Syrian crisis would be an “unforgivable mistake”.

“Not to ensure the presence at this event of all those who may directly influence the situation, I think, would be an unforgivable mistake,” Lavrov told a televised press briefing.

“So I fully support the responsible and principled approach by UN Secretary General (Ban Ki-moon), who sent an invitation to those countries that influence the situation, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Lavrov added the Iran’s absence would make the talks that are due to start on Wednesday in the Swiss city of Montreux a “sham”.

The Syrian National Coalition umbrella opposition group warned on Monday that it would boycott the conference unless Ban withdrew his invitation because of Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States also urged Iran to back calls for a transitional government in Syria or see it lose the invitation.

But Lavrov said the opposition’s absence from the talks would signal that it was not interested in negotiating an end to the nearly three-year conflict.

“The National Coalition group was created by outside sponsors, and we are not against the coalition’s participation in Geneva II,” Lavrov said.

“We welcomed its decision to send its delegation to the Montreux conference. But we must understand the overall alignment of forces,” he added.

“And if someone calls into question the need to invite to Geneva II all the influential players, then this someone is not interested in a just settlement through negotiations of the Syrian crisis.”


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