Iran to attend Syria peace talks in Vienna: Official

TEHRAN (ISNA)- A senior Iranian official said the Islamic Republic will participate in the upcoming talks on Syria to help find a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in the Arab country.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the announcement in a Monday telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov.

Amir-Abdollahian urged all participants in the talks, scheduled to be held in the Austrian capital of Vienna on November 12, to adopt a realistic approach to help resolve the crisis in Syria.

The Iranian official further reiterated that the crisis in Syria should be settled through political means, saying that the people of Syria must be allowed to decide their own future through a democratic process.

The Russian diplomat, for his part, said Tehran and Moscow share a common position regarding the developments in Syria, underlining the necessity of the Islamic Republic’s participation in the Vienna talks.

On Saturday, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said that Iran will actively take part in the Vienna talks while observing all the Islamic Republic’s red lines.

Velayati said that Tehran’s participation in the talks is by no means tantamount to a retreat by the Islamic Republic from its stance on Syria.

The previous negotiations about the Syrian crisis were held in Vienna on October 30, bringing together top diplomats from 17 countries, including Iran, as well as envoys from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).

The participants agreed on the necessity of respect for Syria’s unity and sovereignty as well as the eradication of the extremist groups operating in the Arab country, stressing that the political process to end the bloodshed there “will be Syrian-led and Syrian- owned.”

It was the first time that the Islamic Republic attended the talks on Syria. Two previous conferences, known as Geneva I and Geneva II, failed to achieve anything in terms of resolving the conflict in the Arab state.

The foreign-backed militancy in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has so far claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and displaced millions.