U.S. says invitation to Iran to attend Syria talks should be withdrawn

Reuters reports: The United States insisted on Monday that a U.N. invitation to Iran to attend a January 22 peace conference on ending Syria’s war should be withdrawn unless Tehran fully supports a 2012 plan to establish a transitional government in Syria.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said chances of the conference going ahead were still “fluid” given that Iran has not fully endorsed the Geneva 1 agreement from 2012 to end the conflict.

The 2012 Geneva 1 plan agreed to establish “by mutual consent” a transitional body to govern Syria.

Syrian opposition groups, which voted on Saturday to attend the conference, have threatened to withdraw from the talks unless the invitation to Iran is withdrawn.

The official said Iran was providing substantial military and economic support for President Bashar al-Assad and Tehran’s participation in peace talks was not helpful.

“They are doing nothing to de-escalate tensions … and their actions have actually aggravated them, and so the idea that they would come to the conference refusing to acknowledge support for Geneva 1, we do not see how it could be helpful,” the official said.

No wonder this State Department official was speaking on condition of anonymity. He or she would hopefully be embarrassed to have their name attached to such nonsensical statements.

If this so-called peace conference was to require that all participants be committed to de-escalating tensions, then either there would be no participants who are qualified or no conference would be necessary.

The purpose of a peace conference is not to bring together peace lovers; it is to bring together adversaries in order to explore alternatives to the continuation of fighting. For any alternative to gain any traction it will need to offer each side the prospect of a better outcome than does the continuation of war.

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