Ban announced he had invited Iran to attend Syria international peace conference. In response, the United States expressed objection, as Syria’s foreign-backed opposition threatened to boycott the talks.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced he had invited Iran to attend Syria international peace conference. In response, the United States expressed objection, as Syria’s foreign-backed opposition threatened to boycott the talks.
Ban told a news conference he extended a late invitation after intense talks over two days with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
"Foreign Minister Zarif and I agree that the goal of the negotiations is to establish, by mutual consent, a transitional governing body with full executive powers," Ban told reporters.
"He assured me again and again that Iran, if they are invited, then they will play a very positive and constructive role," the UN secretary-general added.
For its part, the United States and other Western powers had opposed Iran's attendance at the meeting as long as it refused to accept a communiqué adopted by the major powers in Geneva on June 30, 2012, calling for a transitional government in Syria.
Washington made a new call for a clear signal from Tehran, a financial and military supporter of Assad, that it back efforts to set up a transitional government.
"The United States views the UN secretary general's invitation to Iran to attend the upcoming Geneva conference as conditioned on Iran's explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communique," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
"This is something Iran has never done publicly and something we have long made clear is required."
On the other hand, Syrian National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi announced on the coalition's Twitter account that the opposition group would withdraw "unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran's invitation."
The threat came only hours after international leaders had hailed the coalition's decision to take part in negotiations.
The foreign-backed opposition had only on Saturday announced he will take part in Geneva II.