Iran Says No to Suggestion by U.S. for Role in Peace Talks

On Monday, Iran appeared to rule out its participation in the peace talks for Syria late in January, dismissing a suggestion by the U.S. that it could take part on the sidelines as not respecting the country’s dignity.

John Kerry the U.S. Secretary of State suggested Sunday there could be ways that Iran could “take part on the sidelines” in the now referred to Geneva 2 peace accords in Switzerland January 22. On Monday, officials from the U.S. said Tehran could still play a helping role in the talks.

On Monday, invitations were being sent out by Ban Ki-moon the Secretary General of the United Nations to potential participants at the talks. However, while he would like Iran to be in attendance, an agreement has not been reached on if they will be invited.

The key participants in these talks are the member of the government of Syria led by President Bashar al-Assad and the rebels who have fought close to three years trying to oust him.

Opposition groups from Syria and Washington, which has accused Tehran of supporting the regime with arms and manpower during the first uprising against him, have had long standing reservations about Iran’s participation, although Lakhdar Brahimi, the special envoy from the U.N. on Syria has supported the involvement of Iran.

While a warming of ties between the U.S. and Iran has taken place this year, including the November 24 deal to curb the nuclear program in Iran, there still remain no visible signs that other areas of relations such as with Syria have improved.

Kerry reiterated his country’s opposition to Tehran as taking part as a formal member in the peace talks because the country does not support an international agreement made in 2012 on Syria.

That accord at Geneva 1 called for the government of Syria and the opposition to form a new transitional government through mutual consent, which is a phrase Washington says, rules out the role for Assad. Russia, who is a sponsor of the accord, disputes the U.S. view.

U.S. officials said Iran could improves its possibilities of helping from the sidelines in the talks if it would speak to Damascus and help get them to stop bombarding civilians and improve access for humanitarian organizations.

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