Syrian Opposition Threatens Walkout from Conference Over Iran Invitation

20. 1.2014 – eaworldview – A day after voting to participate in Wednesday’s international conference in Switzerland, Syria’s opposition National Coalition has threatened to withdraw over a United Nations invitation to Iran.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday that he had invited Tehran, an ally of the Assad regime, to attend the first day of talks after Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pledged to play a “positive and constructive role”:

    He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening-day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June, 2012, Geneva communique.

“The Syrian Coalition announces that they will withdraw their attendance in Geneva II unless Ban Ki-moon retracts Iran’s invitation,” spokesman Louay Safi responded via Twitter.

Another senior member, Anas al-Abdah, said the Coalition was “surprised”: “[The invitation] is illogical and we cannot in any way accept it.” The US has long maintained opposition to Iran’s formal participation in discussions, but on Sunday it indicated this could change — provided Tehran explicitly declares its support of a June 2012 plan for a political transition in which President Assad would leave power.

“This is something Iran has never done publicly and something we have long made clear is required,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. “If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communique, the invitation must be rescinded.”

Secretary of State John Kerry had said earlier this month that Iran could “contribute on the sidelines”. The Islamic Republic rejected the opening, saying it was dishonorable to Tehran.

115 Killed on Sunday

For the second day in a row, activists report more than 100 people killed across Syria. The Local Coordination Committees claim 115 deaths, including 70 in Aleppo Province and 25 in Damascus and its suburbs. The Violations Documentation Center have recorded 85,048 deaths since the start of the conflict in March 2011. Of these, 62,712 were civilians.