Syria Talks Will Go Forward despite Saudi-Iran Crisis: US

Syria Talks Will Go Forward despite Saudi-Iran Crisis: US
Tue Jan 5, 2016 08:19:46

The United States says that meetings between the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition planned for this month will go forward despite escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in the kingdom.

"We still hope and expect that meetings between opposition groups and regime can happen this month," State Department spokesman John Kirby said Monday when asked about the effects of Iran-Saudi Arabia rift on the efforts to resolve crisis in Syria.

On December 26, 2015, the UN announced plans to convene negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition in Geneva on January 25 in another attempt to end the deadly crisis in the Arab country.

The office of the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, said in a statement that he had “intensified efforts” toward holding the talks on the planned date.

The statement came after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Damascus was ready to attend “the Syrian-Syrian dialog in Geneva without any foreign interference.” He made the remark in Beijing, China, on December 24.

Kirby said on Monday that Saudi Arabia is a key partner, claiming that it has been playing a very important role in Vienna process to end the Syrian civil war.

The international day-long meeting on the Syrian crisis wrapped up in the Austrian capital on October 30. Foreign ministers from Iran, the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Egypt, Russia, Jordan, Britain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Lebanon, China and Oman attended the talks.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Kirby said that Washington wants Iran and Saudi Arabia to resolve tensions bilaterally, noting that "we're not in the market for a mediator."

On Sunday, the Saudi foreign minister announced the Kingdom's severing of diplomatic relations with Iran following Tehran's strong condemnation of the execution of prominent Sheikh al-Nimr and 46 other people.

The move followed demonstrations held in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Arab country’s consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad by angry protesters censuring the Al Saud family for the killing of the top cleric as part of a crackdown on Shias mostly residing in the kingdom's Eastern Province, Press TV reported.

S/SH

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