UN to Iran: Don't Come to Peace Talks After All
But main Western-backed opposition will attend
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2014 3:40 PM CST
In this Jan. 19, 2014 photo provided by the United Nations, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon briefs correspondents.   (AP Photo/United Nations, Emmanuel Dunand)

(Newser) – Iran is out, and the main Western-backed Syrian opposition is in. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has withdrawn his invitation to Iran to join this week's Syrian peace talks, saying he is "deeply disappointed" by Iran's statements today. A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon announced the withdrawal less than 24 hours after Ban surprised the US and others by saying he had invited Syria's closest regional ally. The withdrawn invitation came shortly after Iran's UN ambassador declared the Islamic Republic wouldn't join the Syria talks if required to accept the 2012 Geneva roadmap.

A spokesman for Ban said that Iran, despite assurances, "has made a disappointing public statement" that suggests Iran doesn't accept the terms of this week's peace talks in Switzerland. Senior US officials had said the invitation must be withdrawn unless Iran fully and publicly endorses the formation of a transitional government for Syria leading to democratic elections. Syria's main Western-backed opposition group said Iran had to commit to withdraw its "troops and militias" from Syria and abide by those terms, or the UN should withdraw the invitation.