International peace talks on Syria convened in Vienna on Friday, where Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underlined essential features that should characterize any effective initiative.Foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and Iraq attended the meeting along with their deputies, with China being represented only by its deputy foreign minister.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy to Syria, and Federica Mogherini, EU foreign policy chief, were also among those sitting at the negotiating table, ISNA reported.
Zarif was accompanied by his deputy for Arab and African affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian.
Iran and Russia are the main backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and insist that he should have a role in Damascus's future, while the United States and its allies support the so-called "moderate" opposition and rebel groups fighting government forces and press for Assad's resignation as part of any peace deal.
Neither Syria's main political opposition body, which has objected to Iran's participation, nor representatives of the armed opposition were invited to the meeting.
Speaking to reporters upon arrival in Vienna on Thursday, Zarif reiterated that any initiative emerging out of the Friday discussions should ban foreign intervention, respect Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and uphold the right of the Syrian people to decide their own future.
"Any plan should involve an end to clashes, [establishment of] a joint campaign against terrorism, a national unity government and an agreed, lasting solution between Syrian [opposition] groups and the Syrian [government]," the top diplomat said. "We are ready to raise theses issues in the meeting."
It is the first time Iran has been invited to such a meeting on Syria.
"Those who tried to resolve the Syrian crisis have come to the conclusion that without Iran's presence, it would be impossible to reach a reasonable solution to the crisis," Zarif was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Zarif held talks with his US counterpart John Kerry about Syria on the sidelines of the talks.
The two officials had also met on Thursday to discuss the July nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers.
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