UN: Annan to keep Iran in Syria conflict efforts

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan will keep Iran involved in efforts to halt the Syria conflict even though it was not invited to an international meeting on the crisis, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said Wednesday.

Annan will "brief" Iran after Saturday's ministerial meeting in Geneva and "will also ensure their continued engagement," Nesirky told reporters.

The international envoy and UN leader Ban Ki-moon had said Iran should have been part of the Geneva talks. Russia had also argued that Iran should be present. Diplomats said the United States and European nations had opposed the Islamic state's involvement.

Russia and Iran are the last main international allies of President Bashar al-Assad who has been battling a 15-month old uprising in which activists say more than 15,000 people have been killed.

Annan "has been clear about the need for Iran to be part of the solution and so has the secretary general," Nesirky said when asked about the failure to invite Iran.

The United States has also been clear about its opposition.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday: "Given [Iran's] support for the regime and its continued behavior vis-a-vis Syria, we just don't see it as able to make a helpful contribution right now."

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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