Middle East

Iran says 'good coordination' among Syria allies on talks

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem meet in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Pool)

TEHRAN: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said there is "good coordination" between Syria and its main allies, Moscow and Tehran, ahead of next week's planned peace conference, media reported Friday.

His comments came as the three countries' foreign ministers huddled in Moscow Thursday to devise a joint stance that would ease the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to step down when the talks open in Switzerland after months of delays.

"There is good coordination among Moscow, Tehran and Damascus for an active and constructive presence at Geneva II," state broadcaster IRIB's website quoted Zarif as saying.

Ahead of the talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and its allies had nothing to hide.

"We have nothing to hide. We have no hidden agenda," he said, before he and Zarif joined Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem for more discussions.

With the so-called Geneva II conference set to open on Wednesday, Moscow wants to convince Washington to accept Tehran's presence at the talks to bolster its efforts to keep Assad in power and curb the future influence of his foes.

The United States says Iran must accept a political transition in Syria before it can formally join the talks, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said no final decision had been reached on the Islamic republic's involvement.

But Zarif said Iran would only attend "without preconditions".

It remains unclear whether Syria's divided opposition, which is strongly opposed to any Iranian participation in the talks, will even attend the conference.

Zarif also warned about the spillover of the Syrian war into neighbouring countries.

"Extremism has spilled over from the Syrian borders and now is threatening regional countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia."





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