Russia insists Iran join Syria peace conference
Russia said on Tuesday that it was imperative for Iran to join a proposed peace conference on Syria despite reservations from some Western nations such as France.
"The issue of Iran is key for us," Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying while on a visit to Paris. "Iran without question is one of the most important nations."
Russia has argued that both Iran -- a key backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- and rebel ally Saudi Arabia should take part in the negotiations as part of a new push for peace agreed by Moscow and Washington earlier this month.
France has already rejected the idea of Iran taking part while the United States has responded to Moscow's proposal with scepticism.
Russia and Iran are seen as Assad's most important allies and key suppliers of weapons used by the regime's forces.
Lavrov said that he and US Secretary of State John Kerry had agreed in Paris on Monday that more "clarity" was needed about who could take part in the proposed negotiations before a date for them could be set.
"We must get clarity about the participants," said Lavrov. "And this concerns not only the Syrians that will represent the various levels of society, but also the foreign players."
Russian officials had earlier Tuesday denied that a specific date for the conference was already being decided.
Various media reports have suggested that the talks might begin in the week starting June 10.
© 2013 AFP