UN chief invites Iran to Geneva II

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United Nations, Jan 20: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday that he has invited Iran to attend this week's Syria peace conference in Switzerland, also known as Geneva II.

"I have decided to issue some additional invitations to the one-day gathering in Montreux. They are: Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Greece, the Holy See, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and Iran," Xinhua quoted Ban here during a press conference.

"I believe the expanded international presence on that day will be an important and useful show of solidarity in advance of the hard work that the Syrian government and opposition delegations will begin two days later in Geneva," he said.

Iran wants to be invited without preconditions set by the West.

Iran had said it would take part in the conference if it is invited without preconditions set by the West. The Persian country has been a main backer of the Syrian government during Syria's long- standing conflict.

"I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis," Ban said at the press conference.

The UN secretary-general noted that he made the invitation after he had spoken "at length in recent days with Iran's Foreign Minister" Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"He has assured me that, like all the other countries invited to the opening day discussions in Montreux, Iran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the 30 June 2012 Geneva Communique," Ban said.

IANS

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