Syria's National Coalition says to decide on Geneva 2 after UN statement

by Reuters
Monday, 20 January 2014 21:02 GMT

(Adds spokesman comments)

ANKARA, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Syria's main political opposition in exile said on Monday it would decide whether to attend the Geneva 2 conference in Switzerland after an announcement by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Iran's attendance at the talks.

"It is expected that the Secretary-General of the UN will be holding a press conference during the next few hours in order to show the position of the United Nations from the invitation sent to Iran to attend Geneva 2," the National Coalition's statement said. "The Coalition will send its final position on the basis of the statement of the Secretary-General."

Coalition spokesman Louay Safi later said his group would not attend Geneva 2 unless the invitation to Tehran was withdrawn.

"We decided to suspend our participation - not to withdraw - as long as the invitation to Iran stands," he told Al Jazeera Television.

"I expect the Secretary-General to withdraw the invitation and if he does not withdraw it we will not go and there will not be a conference and the responsibility for that will be Ban Ki-moon's."

The National Coalition had earlier said it would pull out of the talks scheduled this week unless Ban revoked his invitation to Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's main backer, setting a deadline of 1900 GMT for the invitation to be withdrawn. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Dominic Evans; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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