Iran to Attend Syria Peace Talks

January 19, 2014

            On January 19, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced that Iran had been invited to join the peace talks on Syria. The following is his statement, followed by a comment from the State Department.

U.N. Secretary General's Press Stakeout
      Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening.
      Tomorrow I depart for Montreux for the Geneva Conference on Syria.  The Conference is our long-awaited chance to end the violence and begin putting the country back together.
I welcome the decision by the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Armed Forces to participate.  I look forward to seeing an inclusive opposition delegation.
      Over the past 48 hours, I have had a series of intensive meetings and telephone conversations with many global leaders and others who are part of the diplomacy aimed at helping Syria to regain the path of peace.
            I have been striving to generate momentum and to create the best possible atmosphere for the success of this crucially important undertaking.
            Further to these discussions, 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. 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.
            As I have said repeatedly, I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis.
            I have spoken at length in recent days with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mr. 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, including the Action Plan.
            Foreign Minister Zarif and I agree that the goal of the negotiations is to establish, by mutual consent, a transitional governing body with full executive powers.  It was on that basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux.
            Therefore, as convenor and host of the conference, I have decided to issue an invitation to Iran to participate.
            After nearly three years of devastation, and after many months of discussions about the conference, it is now time for the Syrian parties, the region and the international community to unite behind a political solution based on the Geneva Communique.
            I call on all those who come to Montreux to act in good faith.
            Let me be clear – Montreux is not a venue for negotiations. The Syrian parties themselves will begin that process in Geneva on 24 January.
            In Montreux, we are gathering countries and organizations to show their solidarity with this process and of course with the Syrian people, who have suffered so much.
            I especially appeal to the Syrian parties themselves to keep one goal in mind: the end of the suffering of the Syrian people and the beginning of a transition to a new Syria.
U.N. Secretary General’s Invitation to Iran to Attend Geneva II
      The United States views the UN Secretary General’s invitation to Iran to attend the upcoming Geneva conference as conditioned on Iran’s explicit and public support for the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué including the establishment of a transitional governing body by mutual consent with full executive authorities. This is something Iran has never done publicly and something we have long made clear is required.
      We also remain deeply concerned about Iran's contributions to the Assad regime's brutal campaign against its own people, which has contributed to the growth of extremism and instability in the region. If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded. 

Photo credit: Gobierno de Chile (Gira internacional USA) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons, US Department of State ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons