US officials: Iran not eligible for Geneva II, international meeting on Syria
Iran has still not met the criteria to participate in an upcoming international conference on Syria hosted by the United Nations, and its invitation to attend must be withdrawn unless it fully and publicly endorses the aims of the meeting, senior U.S. officials said today.
Speaking to reporters in a conference call, the officials said public statements from Iran since it was invited to the conference by the United Nations on Sunday fall “well short” of what is required for Tehran’s participation. They said that they expect the United Nations to reevaluate and reverse its decision unless Iran changes course. The officials declined to speculate as to what would happen if Iran does not meet the criteria and the invitation is not withdrawn. However, they said the United States would not see the point in holding the conference, known as Geneva II, unless all participants accepted its goals.
The officials said the U.N. had been told of the U.S. position both privately and publicly and that Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken several times with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon several times over the weekend.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name. But, their comments tracked with a statement the State Department issued on Sunday after Ban announced that he had invited Iran and before the Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday that Iran would attend without preconditions.
Today’s statement from Iran “falls well short of meeting the bar” for participation, one of the U.S. officials said. The U.S. has long insisted that in order to participate in the conference, countries must accept the so-called “Geneva Communique,” which was agreed to in 2012 and calls for the formation of a transitional government for Syria that would pave the way for democratic elections.