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POLITICS: PennAve

US hails decision to withdraw Iranian invite to Syria peace talks

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Politics,White House,Iran,Syria,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,United Nations,State Department,Meghashyam Mali,Foreign Policy

The Obama administration on Monday welcomed the United Nations' decision to withdraw an invitation for Iran to participate in Syrian peace talks.

The invite to Iran to join negotiations on ending the nearly three-year civil war sparked international concern, with world powers -- led by the U.S. -- questioning Tehran's commitment to the Geneva roadmap for talks.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon withdrew the invitation for Iran to participate after an Iranian official said Tehran would not back proposals calling for a transitional government in Syria — a key element of the roadmap.

“As we've stated many times, the purpose of the conference is the full implementation of the Geneva communique, including the establishment by mutual consent of a transitional governing body with full executive authorities,” said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki in a statement.

“We are hopeful that, in the wake of today's announcement, all parties can now return to focus on the task at hand, which is bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people and beginning a process toward a long overdue political transition,” she added.

The invitation to Iran over the weekend threatened to end the next round of Syrian talks before they even began.

The talks, slated to begin in Montreux, Switzerland, followed a 2012 conference, where participants called for a transitional government, free and open elections to end the bloody Syrian civil war.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has waged a brutal fight against opposition forces seeking his ouster, with estimates that over 100,000 have died.

Ban invited Tehran, noting that the nation was one of Assad’s chief sponsors and could play a key role in brokering a solution.

But the Obama administration objected, arguing that Iran had not accepted the Geneva roadmap to peace and the main U.S.-backed Syrian opposition group vowed to sit out the talks if Iran attended.

Ban withdrew the invitation on Monday, after Iran’s ambassador said that his nation would not join the talks if they were forced to accept the Geneva roadmap.

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