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Moscow Urges West To Invite Iran To Syria Conference

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Moscow on January 16.
Moscow has again urged the West to invite Iran to next week's international peace conference on Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on January 16 that Iran will "inevitably" become part of attempts to end Syria's civil war and therefore should be included in any peace talks.

Lavrov met in Moscow on January 16 with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, and they were later joined by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.

Zarif said Iran will not take part in the conference,due to begin on January 22 in Switzerland, if preconditions are set for its participation.

The United States says Tehran can participate only if it agrees to earlier diplomatic agreements that any transitional government in Syria would not include President Bashar al-Assad or his close allies.

In related news, on January 16, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on the divided Syrian opposition to join the upcoming peace talks.

Kerry said the aim of those talks is to establish a process needed to form by mutual consent a transitional governmental body with full executive powers.

"The Geneva peace conference is not the end but rather the beginning, the launch of a process, a process that is the best opportunity for the opposition to achieve the goals of the Syrian people and the revolution, and the political solution for this terrible conflict that has taken many, many, too many lives," Kerry said.

He said that any names submitted for leadership of Syria's transition must be agreed to by both the opposition and the Syrian government.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax