TEHRAN: The chances of Syria peace talks in Switzerland succeeding without the participation of Damascus ally Iran are “not that great,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said on Tuesday.
“It is clear that a com–prehensive solution to the Syria issue will not be found when all influential parties are not involved in the process,” Araqchi told state television.
“Everyone knows that without Iran the chances of a real solution to Syria are not that great,” he added.
Araqchi’s comments come a day after the United Nations abruptly withdrew Tehran’s invitation to Wednesday’s peace conference in the Swiss town of Montreux over its refusal to back calls for a transitional government to end the war in Syria.
Tehran is accused of providing military and financial support to Damascus, despite insisting that it has no official military presence in Syria and that its backing takes the form of humanitarian aid.
It has staunchly supported the government of President Bashar al-Assad during the conflict that began in 2011 and is estimated to have killed more than 130,000 people.
Iranian participation in the peace talks has been one of the thorniest issues in the build-up to Wednesday’s talks, the most intense diplomatic bid yet to end the conflict.
Russia, a Damascus ally and co-initiator of the talks, has urged that Iran be involved in the process, with its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying Tehran’s exclusion is a “mistake.”
The United States, the other architect, along with Britain and France want Iran to sign up to the communique issued after the first Geneva meeting in June 2012, which called for a transitional government to replace Assad.
Iran says writing off Assad—whom it considers as Syria’s elected president—would contra–dict the votes of Syrians.
“We were ready to participate in the Geneva II conference and do our part, but we will not accept a precondition that would narrow the solution within set parameters,” Araqchi said.
The negotiations already face major obstacles, with division between the opposition groups and Assad ruling out a power-sharing deal.
And Iran’s non-participation could pose another hurdle for the process.
“We are not attending the talks now, and we shall wait and see how they can unila–terally reach an agreement,” Araqchi said.