No Place for Terrorists in Syria Talks

No Place for Terrorists in Syria TalksNo Place for Terrorists in Syria Talks

A deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday "the most important condition" for Syria talks to succeed is that "terrorists in disguise" be excluded from the team representing the opposition in negotiations with the Syrian government.

"Terrorists with a new mask should not sit down at a negotiating table with the representatives of the Syrian authorities," Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told a news conference during a visit to Russia, Reuters reported.

"This is the most important condition."

At the end of the second peace conference on Syria in Vienna in December, the attendees, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and permanent members of the UN Security Council, released a statement outlining a diplomatic peace process involving negotiations between the representatives of the opposition and the Syrian government to ultimately lead to presidential elections in two years.

There has been a dispute among participants over who should be invited from groups fighting in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad to represent the opposition in negotiations with the government.

The Syrian Army, aided by Russian airstrikes, is gaining ground against rebels in western Syria, capturing the town of Sheikh Maskin near the Jordanian border this week.

Amir-Abdollahian called on Saudi Arabia to stop actions that increased tension in the Middle East, adding that Riyadh was trying to increase its influence in the next round of Syria talks by including "terrorists" in the opposition lists.

"We believe that Saudi Arabia's insistence on including recognizable terrorists ... in one list or another is certainly not a constructive action on its part," he said.

  Continued Backing for Syrian Gov't

Amir-Abdollahian reaffirmed continued Iranian and Russian backing for the Syrian government against armed terrorists seeking to oust Assad.

"The two countries will continue supporting Syria in the face of threat from terrorists. Humanitarian issues, including the refugee crisis, are among our concerns," he said.

The diplomat called on Syria's neighbors to tighten security at their borders to prevent terrorists from crossing into the war-torn country.

"The neighbors of Syria should exert stricter control over their borders because if foreign terrorists are unable to cross the borders into Syria, security will soon be restored to the country," he said.

Amir-Abdollahian stressed that the entry of terrorists into Syria has complicated the situation.

"Among other things, it has made it impossible to sort out terrorists from the opposition forces. That is why some countries are seeking to send terrorists to the negotiating table on Friday disguised as the opposition representatives," he said.