Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

FOCUS

Many Turks angry over Syrian refugee situation

Read more

ENCORE!

Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday : The Best of the Bard

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Paris bans new Gaza protest scheduled for Saturday

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Tour de France fans bring the ambience to the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

Middle east

Kerry hints at role for Iran in Syria negotiations

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-05

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.

At a news conference in Jerusalem, US Secretary of State John Kerry signalled a shift in tone when he talked of Iran playing a constructive if limited role at the conference even if it does not endorse the 2012 agreement.

Kerry, however, reiterated US opposition to Iran being a formal member of the so-called "Geneva 2" talks scheduled for Jan. 22 in Switzerland because it does not support a 2012 international agreement on Syria.

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 US-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.

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 outlined a possible role for Iran at his press conference on Sunday.

"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 (UN) secretary-general, it has to be determined by Iranian intentions themselves," he told reporters in Jerusalem, where he is trying to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"But in terms of a formal invitation or participation - that is for those who support the Geneva 1 implementation," said Kerry who later in the day flew to Amman for talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Senior US 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 June election of President Hassan Rohani 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 Nov. 24 designed to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for limited Western sanctions relief.

However, US 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.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-01-05

  • SYRIA

    Rebels clash with al Qaeda-linked group in Syria

    Read more

  • ISRAEL - PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

    Israel frees 26 Palestinian prisoners

    Read more

  • CHRISTMAS

    Jerusalem's patriarch calls for ‘just’ solution in Holy Land

    Read more

COMMENT(S)