Zarif to Attend Vienna Talks on Syria

Zarif to Attend Vienna Talks on Syria

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will attend international talks on Syria in Vienna on Friday, a dialogue aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis having gripped the Arab country for over four years.  

"In response to an invitation extended to Iran to participate in the meeting, the foreign minister will travel to Vienna at the head of a high-level political delegation," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham was quoted by IRNA as saying on Wednesday.

The invitation was issued by the US State Department a day earlier.

"On the sidelines of the gathering, the Iranian, Russian and EU delegates will hold discussions covering a wide range of regional and other issues of interest," Afkham said, adding that Iranian and US officials are also likely to meet to discuss ways to facilitate the implementation of the July 14 nuclear deal.

The accord between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) provides for removal of international sanctions in return for temporary constraints on Tehran's nuclear program.
Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov held a phone conversation on the Syrian crisis earlier on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement.
Lavrov also spoke to US Secretary of State John Kerry, the ministry said.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna, and from there he will head to Central Asia for discussions with counterparts from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Kirby said about a dozen participants were expected in Vienna for the next round of discussions on Syria.
"There will be bilateral and multilateral discussions in Vienna on Friday and participation is very much still being worked (on)."
But a western diplomat said the decision on whether to invite Iran was first discussed with Saudi Arabia, which is financing some of the militants fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The White House also said President Barack Obama and Saudi King Salman had discussed increased support for the so-called moderate Syrian opposition on the phone on Tuesday. It is unclear whether they talked about this week's meetings in Vienna.

While Washington has opposed Iran's support of Assad and Lebanon's Hezbollah in Syria, it has insisted that Iran needs to be included in the talks on Syria's future.
"Iran will be asked to participate. Now, whether they come or not, that's up to Iranian leaders," Kirby added.


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