France says meeting on Syria must gather "large" opposition


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, shown arriving at a news conference in Tehran, Jan. 17, 2017, said Iran opposes USA participation in Syria peace talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

The President-elect "wants every country to be responsible for its own development and this is an attitude we can relate to", he told reporters at a news conference, reiterating Russia's criticism of President Barack Obama's administration, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

The rebel groups, which are largely aligned with Ankara, said they will only be there to discuss the implementation of the ceasefire deal, a legal advisor to the Free Syrian Army told German news agency DPA.

The talks are scheduled for 23 January in Astana.

Organised by Turkey, Russia and Iran, the meetings are the latest bid to put an end to the global war waged on Syria since March 2011.

The remarks came after Zarif and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov exchanged views on the Syria peace talks in a phone call on Monday night. "We want to end this series of crimes".

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Sources from the opposition and the regime said the talks would "probably" be face-to-face.

US President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has been invited, but has not yet officially responded.

"I am sure that on February 8 there will be talks in Geneva and the process focused on a political resolution will continue", Naumkin told reporters.

It added that it considered the Astana meeting a "preliminary step for the next round" of negotiations on a political settlement in Geneva.

Syrian rebel groups have confirmed that they will attend peace talks with the government in Kazakhstan next week.

The Astana talks are also backed by Turkey but have not directly involved the United States, which led the Geneva talks.