Iran gets 'invite' to Syria conference
12 June 2013, 18:30
Dubai - An Iranian deputy foreign ministry said his
country had been invited to a planned international peace conference in Geneva
aimed at ending the war in Syria, Iranian state television reported on
The US and Russia want Syrian President Bashar Assad and
his foes to send delegates to the proposed talks, but disagree over whether
Iran, an ally of Assad, should attend.
"We received a verbal invitation to take part in the
second Geneva conference. Iran is a serious part of resolving the crisis in
Syria," Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdullahian, told Iran's
He did not say who had issued the invitation, but said
Iran would respond after it had received a written invitation.
Abdullahian blamed the West for stoking violence in
Syria, saying the United States and European countries were sending weapons
there "despite the active presence of terrorist groups".
America, Britain and France deny arming Syrian rebels,
but have not ruled out doing so in future. Assad's opponents have received
funds and weapons from some Gulf countries, such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
There was no immediate comment from the UN or from
countries promoting the Geneva peace talks on Abdullahian's statement that Iran
had been verbally invited.
In Geneva, an Arab diplomat said Iran's participation was
the main sticking point in efforts to convene the conference.
"The Russians insisted Iran should attend. The
Americans say no way," the diplomat said. "Iran is dying to
participate. The Saudis don't mind being absent if that is the price to pay [for
Moscow and Washington had initially hoped to hold the
talks in June, but the date has slipped, partly because of dissensions in the
Assad's forces have made military gains in the meantime,
strengthening his negotiating position.
The Arab diplomat said he doubted the conference could
take place any time soon in these circumstances.