MOSCOW, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian opposition's reluctance to see Iran at the scheduled international peace conference in Geneva is inappropriate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
If Iran does not participate in the peace conference, dubbed Geneva-II, the entire meeting would "be looking like profanation," he told reporters, noting that more than 40 countries had received invitations to the talks.
"The (Syrian) government sits at the negotiating table with no preconditions, so do those countries which directly finance and arm the opposition. Now what, the government must demand these countries do not participate?" Lavrov said.
The meaning of negotiations is to put together all parties that can help to solve the problem, he added.
Earlier in the day, Syria's main opposition group in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, said it would suspend its participation in the Geneva-II conference unless the United Nations withdrew its invitation to Iran.
The Istanbul-based coalition, which decided on its participation Saturday, threatened to pull out from the peace conference shortly after Iran was invited to the meeting, which is due to kick off Wednesday in the Swiss town of Montreux before moving to Geneva.
The peace conference is aimed at bringing together the warring sides in Syria to hammer out a political solution to the civil war, which has killed more than 115,000 people over almost three years.
Some Western countries initially also opposed Iran's participation in the conference on the grounds that Tehran did not support the Geneva communique, a 2012 agreement on the transition of Syria's leadership.
Syrian opposition suspends participation in Geneva II
ISTANBUL, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- Syria's main opposition group in exile Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said here on Monday that it suspends its participation in Geneva II conference due to UN's invitation to Iran.
The SNC spokesman Louay Safi said in the announcement that it suspends the participation unless UN rescinds its invitation to Iran or Iran accepts the Geneva I communique. Full story
UN chief welcomes Syrian opposition's agreement to attend Geneva II
UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday welcomed the Syrian opposition's agreement to take part in next week's international conference in Switzerland to seek an end to Syria conflict.
In a statement issued here by his spokesperson, Ban said the decision was "a courageous and historic step in the interest of a negotiated political solution to a three-year conflict that has caused so much misery and destruction." Full story
News Analysis: Geneva II could be start of solution to Syria crisis despite hurdles
DAMASCUS, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The countdown for the International Geneva II conference on the Syrian crisis has begun, as Syrian analysts deem it as the beginning of a solution despite the low expectations by the domestic opposition groups.
Elias Murad, president of the Union of Journalists of Syria, told reporters on Saturday that the Geneva II conference has become an international demand more than a Syrian one. Full story