Jan. 19 - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invites Iran to participate in Syria peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday he had invited Iran to participate in Syria peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland. The U.N. chief told reporters that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif understands the basis of the second talks is to set up a transitional government in Syria as it was decided in 2012's Geneva One declaration. Syria says the issue of Mr. Assad giving up power is not up for discussion. However, Mr. Moon said Zarif has pledged that Iran will play a positive and constructive role in the new talks. "Foreign Minister Zarif and I agreed that the goal of the negotiations is to establish by mutual consent a transitional government body with full elected powers. It was on these basis that Foreign Minister Zarif pledged that Iran will play a positive and constructive role in the negotiations in Montreux," he said. A transitional government in Syria likely would exclude President Bashar al-Assad, a major Iranian ally. Mr. Ban said Sunday he is convinced Iran eventually will accept Geneva One. More than 100,000 people have been killed and more than two million have fled Syria during the nearly three-year civil war.