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Backtracking on Iran over Geneva II only harms UN: Rouhani

347284_President-Rouhani

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has criticized the UN over its decision to rescind an invitation to Iran to participate in Geneva II talks on the Syria crisis, saying the move is to the detriment of the world body.

In an exclusive interview with Euronews, Rouhani said the UN is the “ultimate loser” of the move by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Firstly, we consider it as our humanitarian duty to do anything to prevent the bloodshed in Syria, and anything that helps the well-being of the Syrian people. Stability in the region is very important for us. The civil war in Syria is not tolerable,” he noted.

“Regarding the invitation, we are ready to take part in any gathering aimed at helping the Syrian people. I am disappointed about what has happened. Not for ourselves or for Iran. I am disappointed for the United Nations and for its secretary-general,” the Iranian president said.

The international talks on the Syrian conflict, commonly referred to as Geneva II, kicked off in the Swiss city of Montreux on Wednesday to discuss the conflict in Syria ahead of direct negotiations between the Syrian government and opposition to be held after a one-day break in Geneva on Friday.

On January 19, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tehran had been invited to the Geneva II conference but later retracted the invitation under pressure from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that the UN chief’s move was “regrettable,” stressing that Ban rescinded Iran’s invitation “as a result of the pressure exerted on him.”

On Wednesday, President Rouhani also raised doubts about the success of the meeting in restoring stability to Syria given the presence of certain countries that back terrorism in the conference.

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