Iran says 'no agreement' on Syria ahead of talks

Iranian foreign minister says there's 'no agreement' on Syria's future ahead of peace talks in New York,

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) is greeted as he arrives at the German Mission to the United Nations in New York on December 17, 2015

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Thursday that there "seems to be no agreement" on Syria's future, ahead of the scheduled international peace talks in New York on Friday.

Zarif told AP that key issues controlling the fate of the talks are still disputed, and that his country has seen "no lists we can agree upon of Syrian opposition groups that should be included in peace negotiations set to begin by January 1, or of Syrian groups that should be considered terrorist organisations instead.”

"Card-carrying members of Al Qaeda do not satisfy the conditions that we set for members of the opposition," Zarif told reporters, ruling out any affiliates of militant groups.

"The opposition should be serious, and it should be inclusive so that they could engage in serious talks. We have suggested a national unity government a long time ago and we hope that this can in fact become a serious exercise, including various opposition groups, not just one inclination within the opposition.”

"At the same time we should exclude people with official affiliation with DAESH, al Nusra Front, Ahrar al Sham or other Al Qaeda affiliates."

Syria’s top opposition body the Syrian National coalition (SNC), based in Turkey, will not be taking part in the talks in New York on Friday at 20:00 GMT.

Iran is one of the two main nations, along with Russia backing the Syrian regime leader, Bashar al Assad, since the start of the conflict in March 2011.

Accompanying Iran in the peace talks will be Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Last month peace talks in Vienna coined a possible peace plan -agreed by 20 nations- and set a January 1 deadline to start negotiations between the Assad regime and opposition groups.

Secretary of State John Kerry poses with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir prior to meeting at the New York Palace Hotel, December 17, 2015, in New York.

However, the plan does not clearly outline Assad’s future, but states “free and fair elections would be held pursuant to the new constitution within 18 months.”

Most Syrian opposition groups, both armed on the ground and the SNC, do not see Assad present within Syria’s political future, as a result of the war crimes committed by the Assad regime since the start of the conflict, which killed thousands and displaced millions.

Several EU countries including Germany and Gulf Arab countries, most prominently Saudi Arabia, agree with the Syrian opposition, and have frequently expressed their desire to remove Assad from power, in contrast to Russia and Iran.

Saudi Arabia is a US ally in the war against DAESH and Iran’s regional Sunni rival.


TRTWorld and agencies