UN Invites Iran To Geneva II

U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

The United Nations invited Iran to the Geneva II talks on post-war Syria on Sunday, stunning many and drawing a swift demand from the United States that the invite be withdrawn.

The main objection voiced by American officials is whether or not Iran has accepted the terms of meeting, according to the New York Times: to establish “by mutual consent” a transitional body to govern Syria.

The formal mandate for the conference was agreed upon in Geneva in 2012 and is known as the Geneva communiqué.

Americans had been in regular conversations with the U.N. over Iran’s role in the talks, but appeared to be taken off guard at the announcement. “Since Iran has not publicly and fully endorsed the Geneva communiqué,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday morning. “We expect the invitation will be rescinded.”

U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon says he has private assurances from the Iranians that they “welcome” those rules and pledged to play “a positive and constructive role.” Iran later on Monday seemed to contradict Mr. Ban, saying they had not agreed to any pre-conditions.

Defiant: Bashar al-Assad will not share power

Defiant: Bashar al-Assad will not share power

“We have always rejected any precondition for attending the Geneva II meeting on Syria,” the Iranian state news media quoted a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry in Tehran as saying.

“Based on the official invitation that we have received, Iran will attend the Geneva II without any preconditions,” she said.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad also rejected the Geneva communiqué, saying in an interview with AFP that he would not share power with anyone and would likely stand for re-election this coming June.

The official Syrian opposition and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival and a major backer of the fighters, also voiced strong opposition and threatened to boycott the talks.

Another State Department official described the probability of the Geneva II conference being held as scheduled on January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland as “fluid.”

 

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