© Fars NewsUnited Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pressed the US to accept Iran as part of a broader coalition of nations discussing the violence in Syria.

"It is better to have broader participants," Ban told reporters late yesterday at the Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Asked specifically about including Iran in negotiations, he said, "yes."

Ban's comments came hours after US President Barack Obama said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to work with "all interested parties" to bring an end to the Syrian conflict. Obama didn't address whether Iran should take part in the talks, as Russia proposed last week.

The situation on the ground in Syria has intensified differences between Putin and Obama on responding to turmoil in the Arab world.

The Russian leader is mistrustful of American motives, and suspects the Obama administration is trying to topple regimes it doesn't like and replace them with US-friendly governments, according to Andrew Kuchins, a senior fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Putin has likened North Atlantic Treaty Organization air strikes against Libya to a "crusade" and disagreed with then President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to abstain from a Security Council resolution authorizing the no-fly zone over Libya. Along with China, Russia twice vetoed Western attempts in the UN Security Council to put pressure on Assad.

Tensions flared last week when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of stoking the violence in Syria by delivering weapons and even attack helicopters to Assad's forces.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov retorted that, unlike the US, the Russians "aren't shipping to Syria or anywhere else things that can be used against peaceful demonstrators."

Russia also has been at loggerheads with the US over efforts to enlist Iran in efforts to end the strife.

On Friday, UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria Kofi Annan called for Iran to be included in the next efforts to bring peace to Syria, countering US objections to Tehran's involvement by saying all nations with influence on the warring parties should play a role.

Annan earlier this month proposed convening a "contact group" of nations with influence in the region. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week suggested that the broader diplomatic initiative should include Iran, but US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton immediately rejected the idea.

"It is time for countries of influence to raise the level of pressure on the parties on the ground, and to persuade them that it is in their interest to stop the killing and start talking," Annan said, quickly adding that cooperation is sorely lacking among those states.

Criticizing the US position against Iran's inclusion in the contact group, Annan said he had "made it quite clear that I believe Iran should be part of the solution."

Annan said he hoped to convene the new diplomatic forum in Geneva on June 30 but that he hadn't yet received assurances from all of those invited that they would take part.

"I have made it quite clear that I believe Iran should be part of the solution," the former UN secretary general told reporters in Geneva, flanked by Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the UN observer mission in Syria.

"If we continue the way we are going and competing with each other, it could lead to destructive competition and everyone will pay the price."

"The longer we wait, the darker Syria's future becomes," Annan said. "The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. ... We cannot just step back and do nothing."