Snubbed Iran doubts success of Syria peace talks

Russia says it was a mistake for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to withdraw the invitation to Iran

Published: Updated:

After being uninvited to a peace conference on Syria this week, Iran on Tuesday said the chances of the Geneva II talks succeeding without them are “not that great.”

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi’s comments came a day after the United Nations abruptly cancelled Tehran’s invitation to Wednesday’s conference over its refusal to back calls or a transitional government to end the war in Syria.

The U.N. said Tehran was uninvited due it not supporting the 2012 Geneva deal calling for a transitional government for Syria was “not consistent” with assurances he had been given by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The unprecedented diplomatic action averted a Syrian opposition boycott of the talks.

Russia on Tuesday regretted the move to cancel the invitation to the Islamic Republic, saying it was “a mistake.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday it was a mistake for U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to withdraw the invitation to Iran to attend peace talks on Syria, but did not see it as a catastrophe.

“It is, of course, a mistake ... But it isn’t a catastrophe,” Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow.

“In any case we are talking about a one-day event on January 22 to which some 40 foreign ministers of various states including from the most remote regions have been invited.

“Of course, despite the largely ceremonial nature of this event, Iran’s absence from a list of 40 states cannot but cause questions.

“The symbolism is still important,” he added.

“I am just sorry that this whole story did not boost the authority of the United Nations.”

(With AFP and Reuters)