ABU DHABI - France's foreign minister on Saturday ruled out
Iran taking part in a proposed Syria peace conference, saying Tehran was
involved in the conflict and had no desire for peace.
Laurent Fabius will
host Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John
Kerry at a dinner on Monday to discuss how to nudge Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Syrian opposition into the talks in Geneva.
aboard a French aircraft en route to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates,
Fabius said there was no "magic wand" to get warring parties to the negotiating
table even though it appeared Assad's government had agreed to
Russia has said Iran must be included in the peace conference,
which was jointly proposed by Moscow and Washington and could convene in the
next few weeks.
But Fabius said Iran's presence in Syria through its
officers who were "directing operations" and through its Hezbollah proxy
demonstrated that it had no place at the negotiating table.
Russians want Iran to take part in Geneva, but we're opposed because Iran is not
after a political solution and on the contrary has thrown itself directly into
that battle." Iran has denied it has forces in Syria supporting Assad's army,
saying the accusations were invented by the "true enemies of
Fabius also said that with complex negotiations coming up later
in the year between major powers that include France, US and Russia over
Iran's nuclear program, allowing Iran to take part in the Syrian conference
would complicate those talks.
The United States and European Union have
so far shied away from directly arming the rebels, but have given them
"non-lethal" support, while Arab backers like Qatar and Saudi Arabia send them
Fabius is due to meet UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin
Zayed al-Nahyan for talks on Saturday. The crisis in Syria and Iran's nuclear
program will top the agenda, given Gulf Arab states' accusations about Tehran
meddling in their affairs by stoking unrest.
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