Iran says it won't seek seat at Syria talks at all cost

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affaris Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to journalists at Rafic Hariri International airport in Beirut on Jan 12, 2014. Iran's foreign minister said in Beirut on Sunday, Jan 12, 2014, that his country is not seeking an invitat
Iranian Minister of Foreign Affaris Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to journalists at Rafic Hariri International airport in Beirut on Jan 12, 2014. Iran's foreign minister said in Beirut on Sunday, Jan 12, 2014, that his country is not seeking an invitation to a Jan 22 peace conference on Syria at all costs. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT (AFP) - Iran's foreign minister said in Beirut on Sunday, Jan 12, 2014, that his country is not seeking an invitation to a Jan 22 peace conference on Syria at all costs.

"If we receive an invitation without any preconditions, we will participate in the 'Geneva 2' peace conference, but we won't act in order to receive an invitation," said Mr Mohammad Javad Zarif.

UN chief Ban Ki Moon last week sent invitations to 30 countries to attend the conference, but did not include Iran, the main regional backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are to meet on Monday in a bid to decide Iran's role in ending the nearly three-year conflict.

Speaking in the Lebanese capital on Sunday, Mr Zarif also said Iran would "welcome any official meeting" with Saudi Arabia, which supports opponents of Mr Assad in the Syrian civil war.

"We try to have brotherly ties with this country... because we believe that if our relationships strengthen, it will have a positive effect on the stability, security and peace in the entire region."

The minister also welcomed Lebanon's efforts to stop "the main terrorist responsible" for a bomb attack outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut that killed 25 people on Nov 19.

Majid al-Majid, a Saudi who was suspected to be the head of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades which claimed the attack, died in Lebanese custody this month.

The embassy attack came amid rising tensions in Lebanon over the role of the Iran-backed Shi'ite movement Hezbollah in the war in neighbouring Syria.