Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif gestures as he attends a joint news conference with his German counterpart Steinmeier in Tehran

Saudi Arabia, Iran to discuss Syria face-to-face for first time

VIenna: Saudi Arabia and  Iran announced they would attend international talks in Vienna on Friday on the war in Syria, in the first meeting between the regional adversaries aimed at ending the four-year-long war.Saudi Arabia said its participation in the talks aimed to gauge the willingness of Russia and Iran, the Syrian government’s main backers, for a peace deal, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Wednesday.”The view of our partners … was that we should test the intentions of the Iranians and the Russians in arriving at a political solution in Syria, which we all prefer,” al-Jubeir told a news conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and three of his deputies will attend the multilateral talks, Iranian state news agencies said earlier on Wednesday.It will be the first time that Tehran attends international negotiations on Syria’s war. Other participants, notably the United States, say Assad can play no part in Syria’s future.The Saudi foreign minister added that the kingdom and its allies would hold a separate meeting on Friday to seek “the time and means of Bashar al-Assad’s exit”.

Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, the European Union and France also said they would attend Friday’s talks, which come a day after a smaller round of negotiations between the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.Around a dozen participants are expected in total.

It was not clear whether any invitation had been issued to either the Syrian government or the opposition. Neither side was present at the last talks in Vienna.


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