U.N. confirms new push for Syria talks, Iran to be invited

A U.N. source said Iran would be among those invited. (AFP)

The United Nations said on Tuesday that its Syria envoy planned to consult Syrian factions and interested countries on a new round of peace talks, confirming a Reuters report.

U.N. spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said Staffan de Mistura was "heavily engaged" in discussions on the process, which would be based on the Geneva communiqué, the June 2012 document that set out a path to peace and political transition but left open the future role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.N.-led peace talks collapsed a year ago, but Reuters reported on Monday that de Mistura was proposing to hold fresh consultations, having been instructed to revive the political track by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Fawzi said De Mistura aimed to "operationalise" the Geneva communiqué with a series of "in-depth, separate" consultations with Syrian stakeholders and regional and international actors, starting in May.

No invitations to the talks, which will be held in Geneva, have yet been sent out, he said.

A U.N. source said Iran would be among those invited. Its involvement has been contentious in previous rounds of Syria talks, although many diplomats see it as an indispensable part of any deal, since it is a major ally of Assad.

In 2012, the United States objected to Iran's participation in the ministerial conference that produced the Geneva communiqué.

So Iran never signed the document, leading to concerns among its detractors that it may have a freer negotiating hand than other parties involved in forging any eventual agreement.

But the United States and Iran have narrowed their differences with a draft agreement on Iran's nuclear programme this month, which some diplomats think could ease tensions and help with any future round of Syria talks.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:55 - GMT 10:55