Why accurate date has never been fixed to hold Geneva Conference? Tehran asks

Iran has slammed statements emerging from Washington about the possibility of a military attack against Syria, and has joined Russia and China in seeking urgent talks in Geneva to defuse the Syrian crisis, which has aggravated since Wednesday, following allegations about the use of chemical weapons on the outskirts of Damascus.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Seyed Abbas Araqchi condemned statements by U.S. officials that Washington was considering a military strike in Syria, affirming that such a move, outside the U.N. forums, would not have any basis in international law.

Mr. Araqchi’s assertions seemed part of a coordinated response from Iran, after statements emerged from Washington that a military strike against Syria was firmly under consideration. On Friday, the U.S. Defence Secretary told reporters travelling with him to Malaysia that American naval forces and assets were being duly positioned in case President Barack Obama decided to order a military attack against Syria, which has been accused of using chemical weapons.

The New York Times reported that the Obama administration was discussing many options, including a cruise missile strike, which would probably involve Tomahawks launched from a ship in the Mediterranean Sea, where the U.S. has two destroyers deployed.

The Syrian opposition has charged the government with killing 1,300 people in Wednesday’s attack — an allegation that Damascus has rubbished as a churlish attempt to offset their military losses on the ground.

Within the Iranian establishment, newly elected President Hassan Rouhani took the moral high ground — condemning use of chemical weapons, and calling for a strict enforcement of an international ban on these weapons of mass destruction, without taking sides. However, others such as Alaeddin Boroujerdi — the head of the Parliament’s committee for foreign policy and national security — were more combative and direct in their response to American sabre-rattling. On his part, Mr. Araqchi, the spokesman questioned why an “accurate date has never been fixed to hold Geneva Conference on Syria”.

The Americans have agreed in principle with Russia and China to convene the Geneva meeting. However, analysts say the Syrian opposition strongly opposes the move, on account of its inability so far to acquire the military high ground.

On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson had also called for “joint efforts to start the Geneva 2 conference on the Syria issue as soon as possible and launch an inclusive political transitional process”.

Iranians and the Russians were engaged in urgent consultations. Mr. Araqchi said Iran’s newly appointed Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke over the phone with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov — the conversation veering towards finding a “peaceful solution to resolve the differences between the Syrian government and the real opposition”.

United Nations disarmament chief, Angela Kane arrived in Damascus on Saturday to investigate the alleged attack.

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