Middle East

Iran urges 'realistic' approach in Syria peace talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, left, and Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun attend the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN: Iran has called on participants at next week's international peace conference on Syria to adopt a "realistic view" and decision that will not embolden jihadist fighters, media reports said Sunday.

More than 35 countries will gather in the Swiss cities of Montreux and Geneva from Wednesday , but Syria's main regional ally Iran has not been invited to attend the conference known as Geneva II.

"Participants in the Geneva II forum must adopt a realistic view and remember that their decisions should not lead to the strengthening of extremist movements in Syria," Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said.

He made the remarks during talks on Saturday with his visiting French Deputy Foreign Minister Jean-Francois Girault, the ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.

Girault is visiting Iran as part of regular consultations between the two capitals, according to the French embassy in Tehran.

"The forum can provide a political solution providing the people of Syria can decide the future of their country... in a democratic solution that will be manifested in their votes," Abdollahian added.

Geneva II, initiated by Russia and the United States, aims to bring together representatives from Damascus and opposition groups for talks on ending the nearly three-year war that has killed more than 130,00 people and forced millions to flee their homes.

Syria ally Russia has expressed hope that the United States would allow Iran to attend the conference.

But the US wants Iran to agree to the outcomes of the first such meeting on Syria in June 2012, which called for a transitional government to end the crisis.

Iran however says it would only partake in the talks if it was invited without any pre-conditions.

"We insist that Iran will not accept any preconditions to attend Geneva II," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday.

The Syrian opposition in exile agreed Saturday to attend the conference for the sole purpose of removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, but Damascus has said he will not step down.





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