ranian President Rouhani (right) shakes hands with Russian FM Lavrov in Tehran on December 11, 2013. Lavrov urged all “responsible countries” to act to ensure a Syrian peace conference achieves positive results, in remarks during a visit to Iran.
BEIRUT: Iran and Saudi Arabia, which back opposite sides in Syria’s war, are among more than 30 countries slated to attend a peace conference next month, diplomats said.
The Geneva 2 conference, a follow-up to a 2012 meeting, aims at mapping out a political transition to end nearly three years of fighting that has killed more than 120,000 people and displaced millions. But the January 22 meeting will be held at the lakeside Swiss city of Montreux because of a shortage of hotel rooms in Geneva, which will be hosting a luxury watch fair, a Western diplomat said.
“At the moment there are 32 countries invited, but the number may increase because everyone wants to come,” an Arab diplomat said.
“In addition to the five permanent members of the Security Council (the US, Britain, France, Russia and China), there are neighbouring countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Germany and Italy and others.” Shia Iran is a key ally of President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, while Saudi Arabia has backed the Sunni-led rebels. Most countries will be represented by their top diplomats and “each minister can speak for five minutes,” he said. AFP