Kerry says Iran could help on sidelines of Syrian peace talks

JERUSALEM Sun Jan 5, 2014 12:50pm GMT

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves upon arrival for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 4, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves upon arrival for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 4, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States on Sunday appeared for the first time to hold out the possibility that Iran might play a role on the sidelines of a Syria peace conference even if Tehran is not formally invited.

Washington, and Syrian opposition groups, have long had reservations about the participation of Iran, which they accuse of supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with manpower and arms during the near three-year uprising against his rule.

Despite the improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations this year with a landmark nuclear deal struck in November, ties are strained by many issues, including the Syrian civil war in which at least 100,000 people have been killed and millions uprooted.

At a news conference in Jerusalem, Kerry reiterated U.S. opposition to Iran being a formal member of the so-called "Geneva 2" talks scheduled for January 22 in Switzerland because it does not support a 2012 international agreement on Syria.

That so-called "Geneva 1" accord called for the Syrian government and opposition to form a transitional government "by mutual consent", a phrase Washington says rules out any role for Assad. Russia, a sponsor of the plan, disputes that view.

Kerry, in a shift in tone, held out the possibility of Iran playing a constructive if limited role at the conference even if it does not endorse the 2012 agreement.

"Now, could they contribute from the sidelines? Are there ways for them, conceivably, to weigh in? Can their mission that is already in Geneva ... be there in order to help the process? It may be that there are ways that could happen," he said.

"But that has to be determined by the (U.N.) secretary-general, it has to be determined by Iranian intentions themselves," he told reporters in Jerusalem, where he trying to nudge Israel and the Palestinians toward a peace agreement.

"But in terms of a formal invitation or participation - that is for those who support the Geneva 1 implementation."

Senior U.S. officials said they believed it was the first time Kerry had publicly raised the possibility of Iran playing some kind of role at the talks without signing up to the Geneva 1 principles.

Relations between Iran and Washington, frozen for decades, have improved sharply since the election in June of President Hassan Rouhani who promised to pursue a policy of "constructive engagement" with the West.

In the clearest sign of warming ties, six major powers and Iran reached an agreement on November 24 designed to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for limited Western sanctions relief.

However, U.S. accusations that Iran supports international "terrorism" and is fuelling the violence in Syria with armaments continue to divide Washington and Tehran.

"Iran could participate very easily if they would simply accept the Geneva 1 premise on which Geneva 2 is based," Kerry said, referring to the 2012 pact calling for the formation of a transitional government with the mutual consent of the Syrian government and opposition.

"We are happy to have Iran be helpful. Everybody is happy to have Iran be helpful," he added.

(Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller and Ari Rabinowitch; editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (2)
laodizea wrote:
I have to say against you as well you support everything bad in Russia and you will pay for this. Muhammad is in Wikipedia in English is an idiot and in Russian he is a god You are without doubt against Christ Your Churches are full of blasphemies of God It was before good people are good bad are bad wicked are wicked >Now you try to change this good are bad I begin to sue against wicked doctors and a firm Clopixol for billion $ but if you against law and want to kill me with Clopixol I will run in N Korea The life is more important .I respect N Korea He feeds wicked people to dogs this can do an English Lord and I can

Jan 05, 2014 7:47pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
laodizea wrote:
And else I want to say Church of England do not promote evil Church of England is an union with Lutheran church in the middle that collapsed in 2008. Of cause Anglican prists do mot belive in Christ but it is not evil. But two things are evil .Of cause you deny revelation of John it is you right But you said you have written Bible and it is untrue, second you said there is nothing in bible about men with men sex it is wicked you can disagree with Christ but you should not go against th word of God Romans !22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error . LET ALL KNOW THIS Iand About Iran it is said in Bible but when the Time is right.

Jan 05, 2014 10:24pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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