Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's decision to withdraw his last-minute offer to Iran to attend the conference would have a negative impact on the United Nations image.
Lavrov, speaking at a news conference, reaffirmed Russia's argument that the presence of Iran was essential for the success of the conference that is set to begin Wednesday in the Swiss resort of Montreux.
In relevant remarks, the Iranian foreign ministry voiced regret over the UN’s withdrawal from its earlier position on Tehran's presence in the International Geneva II conference on Syria, reminding that Iran has never requested participation in the international gathering.
“Iran has announced its explicit position on the Geneva II conference and this explicit position was declared in the contacts between the Iranian officials and (UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy) Lakhdar Brahimi and the UN Secretary-General (Ban Ki-moon),” Afkham said in her weekly press conference in Tehran on Tuesday.
“Mr. (Mohammad Javad) Zarif (the Iranian foreign minister) and Iran’s representative at the UN have also announced Iran’s explicit position that our country will never accept any precondition for participating in the Geneva II conference,” she added.
Afkham voiced regret over the UN’s retreat from its earlier position on the necessity of Iran's presence in the Geneva II, and said Ban Ki-moon has withdrawn from his previous position under pressure of the third parties.
She wished the UN secretary-general could explain about the real cause of his retraction.
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Jen Psaki, stated that “if Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva I communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded”.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,” 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.
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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