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Ban: Iran Will Not Attend Syrian Peace Talks

This week's Syrian peace talks in Geneva will take place without Iran's participation.

A U.N. spokesman made the announcement late Monday, after Iran rejected the idea of a transitional government in Syria. That proposed transitional government will be a key component of discussions at the peace talks. Such a body likely would exclude Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a major Iranian ally.

The U.N. spokesman Monday said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply disappointed that Iran's latest statement is not consistent with its previous commitment to play a positive role at the talks. He said the discussions opening Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux will proceed without Iran.

On Sunday, Mr. Ban announced that he had invited Iran to participate. He also said he believed Iran understood the goal of the talks and would play a positive and constructive role in them.

Now that the question about Iran is settled, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said all parties can focus on a long overdue political transition and ending the suffering of the Syrian people.

Syrian President Assad told the French news agency in an interview published Monday there is a "significant" chance he will run for president again if the public supports his candidacy.

Syria has said the issue of Mr. Assad giving up power is not up for discussion at the peace talks, so few experts expect the negotiations will reach this goal. But they say they do hope the discussions will result in increased humanitarian access and local cease-fires to make life easier for Syrian civilians.

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