U.N. Asks Iran to Attend Syria Peace Conference

1/20/14
 
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from The Wall Street Journal,
1/19/14:

U.S. Warns Tehran Must Publicly Agree to Aims, or Invitation Will Be Rescinded.

The United Nations invited Iran to take part in a peace conference on Syria later this week after Tehran agreed to terms laid out by the U.N., Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday.

The U.S. and Western allies had blocked Iran’s participation because it hadn’t agreed to the conference’s aim of creating a transitional government in Syria. The transitional government would run the country until elections could be held that likely wouldn’t include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Iran.

The U.S. State Department said later Sunday that Iran must publicly acknowledge its support for a transitional government “with full executive authorities,” or the invitation must be rescinded. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki added that the U.S. remains “deeply concerned about Iran’s contributions to the Assad regime’s brutal campaign against its own people.”

Mr. Ban said Iran’s foreign minister told him the country had shifted its position and agreed to the terms for a transitional government that were set at the first Geneva conference in 2012. “Iran needs to participate as an important neighboring country,” Mr. Ban told a hastily arranged U.N. news conference. “Iran understands [that the] basis of this conference is Geneva I.”

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