Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew to Lausanne on Saturday morning to join his US and Russian counterparts and top diplomats from the UN and regional powers for talks on the settlement of a crisis that has plagued Syria for more than five years.
The decision, however, came as a surprise. Only a day earlier, an informed source at the Foreign Ministry had dismissed reports of Zarif’s attendance in the negotiations.
Sources had announced initially that Iran would absent itself from the Lausanne talks because of a huge difference between its views and those of certain parties in the meeting.
But reports suggest that Tehran put forward its plans to resolve the Syria crisis in a series of subsequent contacts with top Russian and EU diplomats and laid down conditions for attending the Lausanne meeting.
Iran was finally persuaded to take part in the talks after Russia and the other parties accepted part of its conditions and also agreed on an increase in the number of the participants.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, as well as top diplomats from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar take part in the Lausanne talks.
Syria has been gripped by civil war since March 2011 with various terrorist groups, including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL), currently controlling parts of it.
Some 470,000 Syrians have been killed throughout the five years of bloodshed, 4.8 million have fled the country, and 6.6 million have become internally displaced by the violence.