US sets condition on Iran's invitation to Syria peace negotiations

The State Department late Sunday described as conditional the United Nations’ invitation to Iran to attend peace talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime later this month.

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“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 communique 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,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“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,” Psaki said. “If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communique, the invitation must be rescinded.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon told reporters on Sunday that Iran was invited after Foreign Minister Javid Zarif "pledged that Iran would play a positive and constructive role in Montreux," according to the Associated Press.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration spelled out its conditions for Iran to play a role in the talks after Secretary of State John Kerry opened the door for Tehran’s participation.

Iran would first have to lean on Bashar Assad's regime to cease bombing rebel-held civilian areas and allow humanitarian aid to reach them, a U.S. official told Reuters.

Kerry had suggested that Iran could be allowed to participate in peace talks. The U.S. and some of its allies have so far opposed Iran's participation because of its support for Assad, while Russia and the U.N.'s special envoy for Syria argue that Iran has a major role to play in helping end the conflict that has been raging since March, 2011.