The prospects for a Syrian peace conference due to be held in Geneva this week were thrown into doubt Monday after the United Nations unexpectedly invited Iran to attend, prompting a threat from the Syrian opposition to withdraw.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in New York on Sunday evening that Iran had been invited after it had agreed to accept that the premise of the peace talks is to pave the way for a transitional authority in Syria that would take power away from President Bashar al-Assad.
The Syrian Opposition Coalition, which had only voted to attend the conference the day before, immediately announced it was suspending its decision to attend “unless Ban Ki-Moon retracts Iran’s invitation,” according to a tweet from its account.
The United States, which also has opposed Iran’s attendance, seemed to have been caught off guard by the U.N. invitation.
“If Iran does not fully and publicly accept the Geneva communiqué, the invitation must be rescinded,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. . .