The much-anticipated Syria peace conference was threatened by diplomatic disarray on Monday less than 48 hours before the scheduled start, as the United States said it expected the United Nations to withdraw an invitation to Iran to attend.
The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Sunday extended an invitation to Iran, surprising American officials. The invitation also angered the Syrian opposition and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival and a major backer of the Syrian insurgency, and they threatened to boycott the talks, which are to commence on Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland.
The United States’ longstanding position has been that Iran, a major backer of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, must publicly endorse the mandate of the conference, which is outlined in a communiqué from a 2012 meeting in Geneva that laid the groundwork for the conference.
That mandate holds that the purpose of a peace conference is to negotiate the establishment of a transitional administration that would govern Syria by “mutual consent” of Mr. Assad’s government and the Syrian opposition. . .