UN Syria envoy says Iran should join Geneva peace talks -Press TV

Reuters

DUBAI, Oct 26 (Reuters) - The United Nations peace envoy forSyria said on Saturday Iran should be invited to planned peacetalks in Geneva, Iran's English-language Press TV reported, incomments sure to rile Gulf Arab states.

Iran has strongly backed President Bashar al-Assad inSyria's civil war while Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab statessupport the Syrian leader's mainly Sunni rebel foes.

The Saudis are also deeply worried by signs of a tentativereconciliation between its ally the United States and itsregional rival Iran.

"We believe that the participation of Iran in the Genevaconference is natural and necessary as well as fruitful, so weare hopeful that this invitation is made," Lakhdar Brahimi tolda news conference in Tehran, according to Press TV, whichtranslated his live remarks into English.

"The secretary-general of the United Nations, I and lots ofother people, we are waiting, we want to see Iran take part inthe conference," he said.

Several officials, including Arab League chief NabilElaraby, have said they expect the Geneva 2 conference toconvene on Nov. 23, though the United States, Russia and theUnited Nations have all said no date has been officially set.

Washington has said it would be more open to Iran takingpart in the Geneva conference if it publicly supported a 2012statement calling for a transitional authority to rule Syria.

Iran has rejected any preconditions for taking part.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking atthe same news conference with Brahimi on Saturday, said Iranwould take part in the Geneva conference if invited.

"(We would) participate with the aim of coming up with apolitical solution by providing the possibility for variousSyrian sides to negotiate with each other," Zarif said,according to Press TV.

The preparations for a conference aimed at ending the Syrianconflict, in which more than 100,000 people have died and millions more displaced, coincides with a growing rift betweenWashington and Saudi Arabia over the war and over Iran's role.

This week, Syria's opposition in exile resisted calls fromWestern and Arab countries to commit to attending the peacetalks, saying they would not take part if there was any chancethat Assad could cling to power.

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