Moscow wants Tehran’s participation in Syria peace talks

Overview of meeting room at the start Action Group on Syria at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva June 30, 2012 (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)
As Russia prepares to host a new round of talks on resolving the Syrian crisis, Moscow officials suggest that other countries, including Iran, should contribute to the peace process.

Meanwhile, Russian officials, working on behalf of Kofi Annan's peace plan as a basis for resolving the protracted crisis, are prepared to hold talks in Moscow, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

"We would welcome organizing meeting of the Syria Action Group in Moscow,” Bogdanov told reporters on Tuesday. “We would not be opposed to Geneva either if the special representative (Annan) and the group participants find this more convenient."

The diplomat added that Russia will continue its work on making the Action Group more representative.

The Syria Action Group Currently it includes the secretaries-general of the UN and the League of Arab States, the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council along with Turkey, Kuwait, Qatar, and EU foreign policy chief.

Bogdanov said Moscow “regrets that because of the position of some of our partners,” important players like Iran and Saudi Arabia were unable to take part in talks in Geneva on June 30.

Earlier, in an interview with RT, Bogdanov said that Russia backs Tehran's participation in the talks “because everyone admits Iran's influence on the situation in the region in general and, of course, on the Syrian events.”

However, Washington, its allies and the Syrian National Council (a coalition of opposition groups) are against allowing the Islamic Republic to take part in such meetings.

According to the SNC, Tehran was playing an exceptionally destructive role in resolving the crisis.

"In the case of Iran, this role is negative because it supports the ruling regime in Syria," SNC member Bassma Kodmani told the press in Moscow.

The council's delegation is currently in Russia for talks.

A top Russian senator in charge of international relations, Mikhail Margelov, called the SNC a leading political force in the country and praised the council’s readiness for political dialogue.

“The SNC is the most serious opposition organization that represents the broadest political spectrum. Until now, the Russian authorities have not recognized the SNC’s legitimacy and the SNC has not suggested commencing talks with Moscow. This is why the upcoming visit means the start of a dialogue with a real force that is ready to start the settlement process by means of a political dialogue,” Margelov said.