Iran 'disinvited' to Syria peace talks

Last updated 10:32 21/01/2014

US sends Iran warning over Syria

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The United Nations secretary-general has withdrawn his invitation to Iran to join this week's Syria peace talks, saying he is ''deeply disappointed'' by Iran's statements.

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon announced the withdrawal less than 24 hours after Ban surprised the US and others by saying he had invited Syria's closest regional ally.

The withdrawn invitation came shortly after Iran's UN ambassador declared the Islamic Republic wouldn't join the Syria talks if required to accept 2012 Geneva roadmap.

A spokesman for Ban, Martin Nesirky, said senior Iranian officials had assured Ban that Iran understood the terms of his invitation.

Earlier, Syria's main Western-backed opposition group demanded Iran commit publicly to withdraw its "troops and militias" from Syria and abide by the roadmap.

The Syrian National Coalition said if those conditions were not met it would not attend the so-called Geneva 2 talks that are scheduled to begin on Wednesday (overnight NZT).

The UN issued a last-minute invitation late on Sunday to Iran, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, prompting the Coalition to threaten to skip the peace negotiations and throwing the entire Geneva conference into doubt.

The negotiations, which are intended to bring together the Syrian government and its opponents for the first face-to-face talks in the three-year uprising, aim to broker a political resolution to a conflict that has killed more than 130,000 people and touched off the worst humanitarian crisis in decades.

Diplomats and political leaders acknowledged that the prospects of achieving such a lofty goal any time soon were slim at best.

Both the government and the opposition have suffered enormous losses, but even now, neither side appeared desperate enough for a deal to budge from its entrenched position.

At this point, just getting the antagonists into the same room to start what was expected to be a long process that could drag on for years would be perceived as a success.

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- AP

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