Iran's Mohammad Javad Zarif to meet Vladimir Putin in Moscow Thursday: Diplomat

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SummaryIran's Zarif has made it clear his country is not seeking an invitation to the Syria peace conference at all costs

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will head to Moscow Thursday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Iran's nuclear programme and on regional issues including Syria, an official said.

"Zarif will meet the Russian president as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his one-day trip to Moscow on Thursday," Mehdi Sanaei, Iran's ambassador to Russia, told the official IRNA news agency.

The visit comes as Moscow pushes for ally Iran to be allowed to participate in the so-called Geneva II Syria peace conference in Switzerland on January 22.

"Talking and coordinating with Russian high-ranking officials on the current international and regional developments as well as (Iran's) stance in nuclear negotiations with P5+1 is on the agenda of the Foreign Minister," said Sanaei.

Iran and the so-called 5+1 -- China, United-States, France, United Kingdom, Russia plus Germany -- have agreed that implementation of a landmark deal that curbs parts of Tehran's disputed nuclear programme in exchange for partial relief of sanctions should take effect from January 20.

Zarif, on a regional tour, is also due to travel to Damascus in the next few days, officials have said.

Zarif has made it clear his country is not seeking an invitation to the Syria peace conference at all costs.

"If we receive an invitation without any preconditions, we will participate in the Geneva II peace conference, but we won't act in order to receive an invitation," Zarif said in Beirut yesterday.

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the Syrian opposition is strongly opposed to any Iranian participation in the talks.

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