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Russia urges presence of Iran, Saudi Arabia in Geneva talks on Syria

Russia urges presence of Iran, Saudi Arabia in Geneva talks on Syria

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described as significant the presence of Iran and Saudi Arabia in the international conference on Syria in Geneva.

“In the interests of the full involvement of interested influential sides, we believe in the necessity of the presence of delegations from Iran and Saudi Arabia. We continue contacts on the matter,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

“On June 5, Geneva hosted the first round of trilateral consultations involving high-level representatives of Russia, the United States and the UN. The second round is slated for June 25,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande said on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Ireland that he would welcome the presence of Iran’s President-elect Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rohani in the Geneva conference on Syria “if he can be constructive.” This is while France had been opposing Iran’s participation in the conference earlier.

Russia has on various occasions stressed the importance of Iran’s participation in the Geneva talks. “The issue of Iran is key for us. Iran, without question, is one of the most important nations,” Lavrov said on May 28.

Iran has repeatedly expressed its opposition to any foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs, stressing that dialog, national reconciliation and free elections are the key to resolving the unrest.

Syria has been gripped by unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian army and security forces, have been killed in the violence.

Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.

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