US opens door to Iran presence in Geneva II

US opens door to Iran presence in Geneva II
Tue Oct 8, 2013 08:32:53

The United States has announced it would be more open to Iran taking part in a peace conference on Syria if it accepts a precondition.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Monday suggested that the United States might be better disposed to Iran's taking part in a Geneva II conference if Tehran were to embrace the original Geneva Communique.

"We've been clear, multiple times, about Iran's role in the Syrian crisis and our expectation that any party that (is) included in Geneva II must accept and publicly support the Geneva communique," she said.

"If, and this is an if, Iran were to endorse and embrace the Geneva communiqué publicly, we would view the possibility of their participation more openly," Harf said, later adding the United States would then view its taking part more "favorably."

The United States is angry with Iran’s support for the Syrian government in the foreign-backed conflict that has run for more than two years and killed more than 100,000 people.

The June 30, 2012, "Geneva Communique" sought to chart a path to a diplomatic resolution of the conflict. It was agreed by major powers such as the United States and Russia, Persian Gulf states and Syria's neighbors Iraq and Turkey - but not Iran, which was not invited to those talks.

Russia and the United States agreed in May to try to hold a "Geneva II" conference to implement the agreement, which called for a transitional governing authority to rule Syria.

The agreement said such a transitional government must be chosen by the Damascus government and the opposition by mutual consent, which the United States says effectively rules out the government staying in power.

Efforts to convene the conference have been delayed - US Secretary of State John Kerry originally said it might be held by the end of May - and the recent diplomatic focus has been on ridding Syria of its chemical weapons.

The United States and Iran have recently started something of a diplomatic rapprochement, with President Barack Obama speaking by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on September 27, the highest level contact since 1979.


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