Lavrov urges 'responsible countries' to back Syria talks
TEHRAN - Agence France-Presse
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (L) give a joint press conference in Tehran on December 11, 2013. AFP PhotoRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged all "responsible countries" to act to ensure a Syrian peace conference achieves positive results, in remarks during a visit to Iran on Wednesday.
Iran and Russia back President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the Syrian conflict, which is estimated to have killed almost 126,000 people since it erupted nearly three years ago.
Lavrov arrived in Tehran on Tuesday evening for talks officials said would focus on plans for the Syria peace conference dubbed Geneva 2, which is set to start on January 22, as well as bilateral ties and Iran's landmark nuclear deal with world powers.
He will also hold talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday, Iran's foreign ministry said.
"All responsible countries must do something so that Geneva 2 achieves a positive result," Lavrov said at a news conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
"Those who are against (such a result) show a lack of commitment faced with the demands of the international community," he added. Lavrov repeatedly said Iran was a "key player" that could help to resolve the Syrian conflict and should be invited to the conference. The Syrian regime and the opposition have stated their willingness to attend Geneva 2, but they differ on how the transition of power should be managed and on the attendance at the talks of officials from Iran and Saudi Arabia, which backs the rebels.
Damascus says Assad will stay on as president and lead any transition agreed at the conference.
The opposition and rebels fighting the regime reject the participation of Iran at the conference and insist Assad has no role to play in any transition.
Zarif repeated Iran was ready to take part in the conference but "without precondition" and the conflict should be solved by the Syrian people.