January 22, 2014

Iranian President Pessimistic about Geneva II Conference

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed pessimism about the effectiveness and fruitfulness of the Geneva II conference on Syria.

“Altogether, signs do not give me much hope because those countries are present in there (in the Geneva conference) that have caused instability (in Syria),” Rouhani told reporters on Wednesday morning before leaving Tehran for Switzerland to participate in the 44th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos on global financial crisis.

The Islamic Republic of Iran seeks establishment of peace and stability in the region and campaign against terrorists, he said, adding that the Geneva II conference could be effective and successful if it pursued the same goals.

“If the conference helps the regional and Syrian people, their freedom and peace and stability, we will be pleased,” Rouhani underlined.

His remarks came one day after the UN retreated from inviting Iran, a key regional actor, to the Geneva II conference due to the pressures exerted by the US and its allies.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to Iran on Monday to invite the country to the Geneva II peace conference on Syria. Yet, a few hours later, the US State Department Spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, stated that “if Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva I communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded”.

In response to Psaki's statements, the Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman reiterated that Tehran would never accept any precondition for its participation in the gathering.

“We will not accept any preconditions for our presence in the Geneva II and we will take part in the conference as per the invitation (extended to Iran) and without any precondition,” Marziyeh Afkham stressed.

She underscored that Iran has always supported political solution to the Syrian crisis, and said, “In our opinion, the Geneva II conference can provide proper conditions for taking effective steps in this framework.”

The invitation enraged the US, Britain and the main Syrian opposition body, which warned it would not turn up in the Swiss town of Montreux unless Iran conceded on the issue of a transitional government – a central pillar of western-backed attempts to oust President Bashar al-Assad. The US said the UN must take back its invitation.

The threat and the pressures by the US-led West could eventually make Ban Ki-moon rescind his invitation to Iran. Later his Spokesman Martin Nesirky said, "Ban is deeply disappointed at Iran’s statements rejecting the June 2012 Geneva communiqué.”

Addressing a press briefing at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, Nesirky added, "Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, he has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran's participation."

The 2012 Geneva communiqué outlines measures for a transition of power in Syria, and its key demand means Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will have to step down.

As soon as Iran's invitation was rescinded, Syria's opposition national coalition immediately confirmed its participation in the forthcoming talks, known as Geneva II.

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