Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:55PM
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov

A senior Russian official says Syria crisis could not be settled without Iran engagement, stressing that the Islamic Republic should be invited to the upcoming international peace talks between Syria's warring sides next month.

“Excluding Iran from Geneva II [conference] is counterproductive. This would complicate the implementation of future agreements,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on his Twitter account on Friday.

"Iran can play a role in resolving Syrian crisis and should be part of the decision," Gatilov said, adding, "We still expect the opposition's participation in Geneva II without preconditions."

On December 16, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic would take part in the Geneva II conference on the ongoing Syria crisis if it is invited to the event without any preconditions.

“In case of any initiative, it is the Syrian people who should decide on their own political destiny and future. Iran supports any attempt and plan to this effect, and is ready to attend the Geneva II conference if invited without any preconditions,” Zarif added.

In a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister in New York on October 2, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also underscored Tehran’s decisive role in the settlement of the crisis in Syria, stressing the need for Iran’s presence in any international talks on Syria.

The UN has set January 22, 2014 as the date for the Syria peace talks.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. Reports indicate that the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside the country.

According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in the violence.