US, Russia fail to agree Syria peace talks date

Updated: 2013-11-06 04:30


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Arab league

"All those with influence on the situation must certainly be invited," Lavrov told a news conference in Moscow. "This includes not only Arab countries but also Iran."

Saudi Arabia and the United States oppose any invitation for Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran could contribute to a peaceful solution and was willing to call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Syria:

"We believe that everybody should assist the Syrian parties to come to the negotiating table to seek a solution," he told France 24 television. "Those who are supporting armed groups need to do their part to end this illusion that there can be a military solution to Syria."

The Arab League gave its blessing on Sunday to the proposed peace talks and urged the opposition to form a delegation under the leadership of Jarba's coalition.

But it is unclear whether the opposition, which has scant influence with rebels fighting in Syria, will attend.

"The Qataris have been trying to hammer out a united position between the opposition, but I don't think they will succeed," said an Arab diplomat in Geneva.

"The Saudi position is complicating things. They are not too excited about Geneva 2."

Riyadh is angry over what it sees as a weak US. commitment to removing Assad, especially since President Barack Obama dropped a threat of air strikes after a poison gas attack near Damascus in August.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal criticized Iran on Monday, saying it was helping Assad attack his own people.

In response, Zoabi, the Syrian information minister, said: "We promise that Saudi diplomacy will fail, whether Geneva goes ahead or not. We will not go to Geneva in order to hand over power, as al-Faisal and some of the opposition abroad hope."

"If that was the case we would have handed it over in Damascus and saved the effort and price of the airline ticket."

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