Middle East

Tehran must openly back Syrian transition: French FM

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius speaks to journalists in Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday, Nov.24, 2013. (AP Photo/Keystone,Martial Trezzini)

PARIS: Iran must openly support the creation of a Syrian transitional government if it wants a seat at this week's peace talks in Geneva, France's foreign minister warned on Monday.

"Participation in Geneva II is conditional upon explicitly accepting" the goals set out in the UN invitation to the talks, namely "the establishment of a transitional government in Syria with full executive powers," Laurent Fabius said in a statement.

"It is obvious that no country can take part in the conference unless it expressly accepts its mandate," Fabius said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sparked a furore Sunday by inviting Iran to the peace talks after Tehran vowed to play a "positive and constructive role" in efforts to end Syria's worsening three-year civil war.

Iran is a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States and France had so far opposed Iran's presence at the talks on the ground that Tehran had not accepted an initial communique adopted by major powers in Geneva in June 2012 calling for the creation of a transition government in Syria.

Washington Sunday warned its arch foe to back calls for a transitional government in Syria, or lose its invitation to the talks.

If Iran does go, there will be 40 countries and a group of regional bodies at the opening meeting, which will be the most intensive diplomatic effort yet to end a war that the UN says has left well over 100,000 dead.





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