United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is “disappointed” by Iran’s refusal to accept the stated goals for upcoming peace talks on Syria and has rescinded Sunday’s invitation to participate, a spokesperson said Monday.
Ban unexpectedly invited Iran Sunday to participate in this week’s negotiations in Switzerland, sending United States officials scrambling to have the offer rescinded unless Iran endorsed the goal of creating a transitional government in Syria before participating.
Ban had told reporters after extending the invitation that the Iranian Foreign Minister understood “the basis of the talks,” according to the Associated Press, but the Iranian mission to the U.N. said Monday that Iran would not participate in the conference if it had to accept preconditions.
“The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed by Iranian public statements today that are not at all consistent with that stated commitment,” a spokesperson for Ban said in a statement. “Given that it has chosen to remain outside that basic understanding, he has decided that the one-day Montreux gathering will proceed without Iran’s participation.”
The invitation had threatened to unravel the talks, with the main Western-backed opposition group – the Syrian National Coalition — saying it would back out unless the UN withdrew its invitation. The group confirmed that it will participate after the statement from the Secretary-General, according to the Associated Press.
Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the State Department, said in a statement, “We are hopeful that, in the wake of today’s announcement, all parties can now return to focus on the task at hand, which is bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and beginning a process toward a long overdue political transition.”