Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov strongly backed Iran’s participation in the Geneva-2 peace conference even as he made it clear Moscow will not shed tears over refusal of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) to attend the talks.

Mr Lavrov said Iran’s absence from the conference would make it “a sham.”

“Around 40 countries have been invited to the conference, including Australia, Mexico, Korea, Brazil, India, Indonesia, etc,” Mr Lavrov observed. “If Iran were not on the list, it would turn the conference into a sham.”

The Russian foreign policy chief was not so categorical about the participation of the SNC, which is reported to have threatened to boycott Geneva-2 unless U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon retracts its invitation.

“Russia is not against the National Coalition’s participation in Geneva-2, moreover we welcomed its [earlier] decision to send a delegation to Montreux,” Mr Lavrov told a press conference in Moscow on Monday. “But we should clearly understand the overall balance of forces.”

“If someone calls into question the need to invite all influential players to Geneva-2, then this someone is not interested in a just settlement of the Syrian crisis through negotiations.”

Dismissing SNC’s threat of boycott as “tantrums” Mr Lavrov stressed that the Coalition had been created by “outside sponsors” and was “only part of the opposition forces.”

“Inside Syria there are groups that are also keen to take part in deciding the fate of the Syrian people… but they are not part of the SNC,” he said, adding that the Coalition on the whole consisted of “responsible people” who wished peace for Syria.

The article has been corrected for factual errors.

The abbreviation for Syrian National Coalition was given as CNC. It should have been SNC. Also, in a subsequent paragraph the coalition was referred to as the National Council. It should have been National Coalition.

More In: World | International | News