Iran criticised the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for rescinding his invitation to Tehran for the Syria peace talks in Geneva, calling the diplomatic about-face “deplorable”.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Tuesday that Ban Ki-moon’s decision to withdraw his last-minute offer to Iran to attend the conference shows the UN chief came “under some pressure.”
Afkham said that Iran would expect Ban Ki-moon to explain the “real reasons” for withdrawing the invitation.
The invitation extended by Ban on Sunday put the talks in jeopardy, with the Syrian opposition threatening to boycott the gathering and the US pushing for the rescinding of the offer to Iran, Syria’s main regional ally.
Iran is the primary ally of Assad and has stood by the Syrian government ever since the uprising began, supplying it with equipment and advisors to help in the war effort.
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Russia, the other powerful ally of Assad, called the decision to exclude Iran a ‘mistake’ and said the decision has the potential to draw deep divisions within the Islamic world. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have since the beginning called for the ouster of Assad and lobbied the United States to assist the rebels. They were adamant that Iran should not be part of any peace deal for Syria.
The talks begin on Wednesday at the Swedish town of Montreux, after which the venue will move to Geneva.