An international peace conference aimed at ending Syria's civil war will be held on January 22, the first face-to-face talks between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels seeking to overthrow him, the United Nations said yesterday. The UN is hoping for a peaceful transition in Syria, building on an agreement between world powers reached in June last year. The deal calls for the warring sides to set up a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities, but leaves open the fate of Assad. "We will go to Geneva with a mission of hope," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. The announcement came as Syria mediator Lakhdar Brahimi met senior US and Russian officials in Geneva in his latest effort to get negotiations on track to end a war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives. Brahimi, with backing from world powers, has been trying to convene a peace conference since May and had hoped that it could be held in mid-December. I expect all partners to demonstrate their support for negotiations UN SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON The participation of Syria's ally Iran in the peace conference has been a major stumbling block as Washington has opposed it, while Russia has backed Tehran's attendance. It was not clear from Ban's statement whether Iran would be invited. He said he expected "all regional and international partners to demonstrate their meaningful support for constructive negotiations". Brahimi has previously called for Iran to join the conference. The US and its allies say Iran must accept the agreement of June 2012 before an invitation can be extended to January's "Geneva 2" talks. "Until Iran publicly endorses the Geneva communiqué, and therefore makes clear that it supports the purpose of the Geneva 2 conference, it is hard to see how it can play a constructive role in finding a political solution to the conflict," a spokeswoman for the British Foreign Office said. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said "a political transition would mean that Assad can have no future role in Syria".