TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior Iranian cleric placed great emphasis on the country’s influential role in the Muslim world, saying the upcoming Geneva 2 peace conference on Syria will end in total failure without Iran.
“Without Iran, the Geneva 2 conference will certainly fail and remain futile,” Tehran’s Provisional Friday Prayers Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ahmad Khatami said, addressing a large congregation of worshippers here in Tehran today.
Referring to enemies’ efforts to block Iran’s growing influence in the region, Ayatollah Khatami said, “Whether you (enemies) want it or not, Iran is a big power in the Islamic world today, and the country participates in any gathering with logic, reasoning and compassion for the people.”
He also lashed out at the US for opposing Iran’s attendance at the upcoming peace conference on Syria, and added, “Iran has not been invited to the Geneva 2 conference under US pressure, but I should mention that Islamic Iran has no need of participation in the conference.”
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on November 25 that the much delayed Geneva 2 Conference on Syria will be held on January 22, 2014.
The conference would bring representatives from Syria’s government and elements of the opposition to negotiate an end to the fighting that has raged on since March 2011.
Geneva 2 is the second sequel of Geneva 1 conference held in June 2012 in which international parties laid out a peace plan for Syria that calls for a transitional governing body. It left open the question of whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power.
The final communiqué issued on 30 June 2012, following the meeting of the so-called Action Group for Syria called for an immediate cessation of violence and the establishment of a transitional government that could include officials serving under President Bashar al-Assad and members of the opposition.
Earlier in November, US State Department said Washington might agree with Iran’s participation in the upcoming talks over Syria if Tehran backed the “Geneva I Communiqué” which called for a transitional government in Syria.
Thereafter, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham announced that her country would not accept any precondition for attending peace talks on Syria.
According to UN-Arab League Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, about 30 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Brazil, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, would be invited to the day-long conference on January 22 in the Swiss city of Montreux.
Brahimi told media in December that Iran’s participation at the Syria peace conference had not been decided upon yet due to the US opposition.
“The US is still not convinced Iran’s participation would be the right thing to do,” said Brahimi at a news conference after a day of meetings with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Syria’s neighbors Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
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