Middle East

Zarif: Iran rejects preconditions to joining Syria talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, speaks during a press conference in Beirut on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Iran’s Foreign Minister said Monday his government rejected any precondition to taking part in the Syrian peace talks planned for Jan. 22 in Switzerland.

“Iran rejects outright imposing any preconditions on its presence in Geneva and if there was pressure resulting in Iran not taking part in the conference then the parties [who exerted the pressure] will regret that in the future,” Zarif said during a news conference in Beirut.

“Any party that claims to be concerned with Syria’s stability and security should work via a harmonious, unified movement to find a peaceful solution to the crisis there and allow the Syrian people to decide what meets their aspirations,” he said.

“I am always ready to go to Geneva without preconditions if the integrity and dignity of the Iranian people and Iranian nation are maintained and respected,” he said.

“We are prepared to participate actively and positively in finding any peaceful resolution to the Syria crisis because we believed there is only one option in Syria and that is the peaceful option,” he said.

The Iranian official added that there could be no military solution to the crisis in Syria.

“There is no military solution to Syria and those who believe that they could resolve this issue militarily have found the dangers of their illusion and we hope everyone will come to their senses and find out that the only solution to this issue is to allow the Syrian people to have a dialogue among themselves and ultimately resolve this at the ballot box,” he said.

Russia and the United States are divided over whether delegates from Tehran, which backs the regime of President Bashar Assad, should attend this month’s peace talks in Switzerland to end the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran should take part but on condition Tehran accepted an deal reached at the Geneva conference on Syria in 2012 that calls for a transitional government, which the U.S. translates as the requirement that Assad step down.





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