UN: Ban had only 'oral understanding' with Iran

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Associated Press

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 21 at 1:34 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon says the U.N. chief believed he had reached an "oral understanding" with Iran's foreign minister before inviting Iran to this week's Syria peace talks.

Ban withdrew the invitation Monday, saying he was "disappointed" that Iran's public statements differed from its private assurances on the terms of its attendance at the talks — that Iran would endorse the goal of preparing a transitional government for Syria.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said "the secretary-general had been given to understand an oral understanding with the Iranians that would be made more concrete."

Haq told reporters Tuesday that Ban believed the oral understanding "would be followed by a written understanding. That didn't happen."

Iran, Syria's closest regional ally, has resisted preconditions to joining the talks in Switzerland.

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