Lakhdar Brahimi: Iranian participation in Geneva II "uncertain"
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iran's presence at the Peace Conference for Syria in Montreaux (city northeast of Geneva) on January 22 is still uncertain. The announcement was made late in the evening yesterday by Lakhdar Brahimi , the UN and the Arab League envoy, after a series of talks with officials from the United States and Russia , in preparation for the Geneva II. " It's no secret - Brahimi said to reporters - that we in the United Nations welcome the participation of Iran, but our partners in the United States are still not convinced that Iran's participation would be the right thing."
A U.S. official said yesterday - anonymously - that "the United States find it difficult to imagine Iran at this conference". However, the UN and the Arab League envoy said that "Tehran is not yet out of the list ," and that the talks will continue. "I am convinced - he added - that [ Iran ] could play a role even without officially attending the conference".
Tehran has placed no conditions. In a telephone call this morning with Brahimi, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, reiterated the need for a " political solution " to the conflict , which in the past three years has claimed the lives of at least 126 thousand people. Speaking of the conversation the UN and the Arab League envoy reported that "if it were possible , [ Iran ] would like to come to Geneva, but if it is not possible it is not the end of the world, that they support this process, and they will work with us".
Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has promoted the participation of Iran to the table for talks.
In addition to the Iranian issue, there is still uncertainty about delegates who will represent the two Syrian "sides" Geneva II. As reported by Brahimi, " the government has already formed its delegation , which will be published in the coming days ." At the end of yesterday's talks , the Russian news agencies reported that lead the Damascus delegation will be led by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem .
Meanwhile , the Syrian opposition remains divided between the Syrian National Coalition , an advocate of the Peace Conference , and the rebel fringes opposed to dialogue with the Assad regime seeing it as "a betrayal." Yesterday, the Free Syrian Army - once the strongest armed opposition, now relegated to the margins by Islamic fundamentalists - has called for " unity" among the ranks of the rebels.