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U.N. Invites Iran To Syria Talks, Opposition May Balk

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said Iran is a crucial part of the solution to Syria's conflict - but that may be a deal-breaker for the opposition.
Posted at 12:01 AM, Jan 20, 2014

Plans for an upcoming peace conference to resolve the civil war in Syria have been thrown into chaos after the head of the U.N. invited Iran to participate.

Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon announced the invitation Sunday, saying that Iran had accepted and understood the basis of the talks. (Via United Nations)

"As I have said repeatedly, I believe strongly that Iran needs to be part of the solution to the Syrian crisis." (Via Press TV)

The talks, dubbed "Geneva II," are the first chance the international community has had to bring the government of Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition together to discuss an end to the conflict. (Via Al Jazeera)

And The Wall Street Journal points out Iran has been a key player in that conflict.

"Shiite Iran has played a significant role in the conflict, aiding the Syrian government with arms and money, and sending Hezbollah fighters into Syria from neighboring Lebanon, as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers."

But now Geneva II might not even happen. The Syrian opposition just voted on Saturday to attend the conference, but Iran's involvement might be a dealbreaker.

CNN quotes an opposition rep saying: "​If they insist to bring Iran, we will have to go back to the drawing board again. ... We don't want to negotiate with Iran, we want to negotiate with the regime."

And the U.S. State Department also said it was "​deeply concerned" about Iran's involvement, and that unless Iran accepted the roadmap to peace already put in place in 2012, the invitation should be rescinded.

The conflict has dragged on for three years so far, and the last time the U.N. estimated the death toll back in July, it had claimed more than 100,000 lives.