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Iran Turns Down Kerry’s Proposal for Sideline Presence in Geneva II Conference

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Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham stressed Tehran’s readiness to take part in the Geneva II conference on Syria, but stressed that Iran will not accept any precondition or improper invitations to the international gathering.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will cooperate in any political solution to settle the Syrian crisis without any preconditions,” Afkham told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday.

She said Tehran believes that setting preconditions and conditions which ignore Iran’s prestige is wrong, and added, “We reject any proposal which doesn’t respect the Islamic Republic’s honor.”

Afkham underlined Iran’s important role in settling the crisis in Syria, as admitted by different western and regional countries, and said, “If they (the westerners) want to merely hold the conference (without paying attention to the role of influential countries) it will turn into a political show and won’t result in a strong and sustainable achievement.”

In relevant remarks late December, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said the International Geneva II Peace Conference can play a significant role in ending the crisis in Syria, but meantime cautioned that the Syrian people and government believe that the decisions to be made at the conference will be impractical and ineffective if Iran is not invited to the meeting.

“Syria is committed to Iran’s joining to the (international Geneva II) peace conference,” said al-Moallem at the time.

“It is illogical that the United States or the so-called opposition to exclude this country (Iran) from the (Geneva II) conference for political reasons,” the foreign minister added.

Also last month, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a phone talk with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated the necessity for Tehran’s participation in the Geneva II conference on Syria due to be held on January 22.

He also underlined the necessity and importance of Iran’s presence in the meeting.

The UN chief stressed all-out efforts of the United Nations and all effective sides and countries to work out a political solution and reach an agreement to settle the Syrian crisis.

Zarif , for his part, underscored Iran’s clear and principled stances, and said settlement of Syrian crisis would be possible only through political approaches.

In November, Zarif underlined that Iran is ready to take part in the upcoming Geneva II conference on the Syrian crisis “without any preconditions”.

On November 26, Ban Ki-moon announced that the Syrian government and opposition negotiators would meet for the first time since start of the country’s 32 month-old crisis in Geneva on January 22, 2014. Ban said the landmark conference it would be “a mission of hope”.

After the UN announced the date for the gathering, Iran’s foreign minister said Tehran would be in Geneva on January 22, unless the US-led West tries to set a precondition for Tehran.

After the UN declared the date for the high-profile gathering, its envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said that the Geneva II conference on Syria, set for January 22, would start “without any preconditions”.

The US has long tried to ask for prerequisites to allow Tehran’s participation in the conference.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that Iran could play a sideline role in the Syrian peace talks.

He said that it would be difficult to see how Iran could be a ministerial partner in the Geneva II talks. However, he said that Tehran could play a helpful role in finding a solution to the conflict in Syria.

Kerry suggested that Iran’s diplomatic office in Geneva might be able to help as an unofficial participant.

In response on Monday, Afkham reiterated Iran’s full support for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria, and urged the US secretary of state to see the region’s realities, including Iran’s undeniably influential and positive role in the settlement of regional disputes.

“Iran has repeatedly announced since the very beginning of the ongoing crisis in Syria that the problem should be solved through diplomatic solutions. Any solution to the crisis should guarantee the Syrian people’s right to determine their own destiny based on Syrian-Syrian talks,” said the spokeswoman.

Criticizing Kerry’s proposal for Iran’s sidelined participation in the International Geneva II Peace Conference, Afkham said Tehran would only accept the proposals which are in line with its dignity.

Iran has always underlined a negotiated end to the crisis in Syria, reiterating that a halt in the arms flow to anti-government militants is the prerequisite to any diplomatic solution to the Syrian problem.

In November 2012, Iran hosted a meeting between the representatives of the Syrian government and opposition to encourage them to start talks to find a political solution to their problems. The National Dialogue Conference kicked off work in Tehran mid November with the motto of ‘No to Violence, Yes to Democracy”.

The meeting brought together almost 200 representatives of various Syrian ethnicities, political groups, minorities, the opposition, and state officials.

The conflict in Syria started in March 2011, when sporadic pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle-East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.

As the foreign-backed insurgency in Syria continues without an end in sight, the US government has boosted its political and military support to Takfiri extremists.

Washington has remained indifferent to warnings by Russia and other world powers about the consequences of arming militant groups.

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