US: Tehran Key to Effective Syria Talks

US: Tehran Key to Effective Syria TalksUS: Tehran Key to Effective Syria Talks

Were Iran to be denied a seat at the negotiation table over the Syria conflict, it would be unlikely to arrive at an effective diplomatic solution, the spokesperson for the US State Department said on Monday.

Asked whether the United States is considering the inclusion of Iran in future talks to find a political settlement to Syria's crisis, John Kirby said, "At some point, obviously and the secretary [of state, John Kerry, has] talked about this."

"We know there's going to need to be a conversation with Iran towards the end of a political transition there, towards that end. I don't want to get ahead of specifics in terms of future meetings except to say that, obviously, at some point we know there's going to have to be a dialogue with Iran."

Speaking during a regular press briefing, he stressed, "So there are real issues here with Iran with respect specifically to Syria, as well as the region. And as the president [Barack Obama] noted, as Secretary Kerry has said, we know that at some point, if a political solution is going to be found and if a political solution can be successful, you're going to have to have a conversation with Iran about this."

Commenting on the stance by some US allies, Saudi Arabia in particular, which oppose Tehran's involvement in dialogue on the Damascus situation, Kirby said, "I won't speak for other nations and their views about what a political transition process needs to look like or who needs to participate in that. I think that's really for them to speak to, and the secretary would want us to respect their right to do that."

  Differing Views on Transition

"It is clear, and we've talked about this many times, that not everybody has the same view on what a transition should look like – how long it should take, what role does [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] play in it, what role does the opposition play in it. All of these things are issues that need to be continued to [be] discussed and need to be hashed out," he said according to a transcript of his remarks posted on the website of the US Department of State.

Syria has been mired in a civil war for about four years, costing the lives of over 200,000 people and displacing millions.

Assad's fate has been a major point of disagreement between his opponents and supporters. The United States and its allies want Assad to leave power as part of any diplomatic settlement to the conflict, while his backers, Iran and Russia, insist that he should have a role in Damascus's future.

Asked about what specific role the West expects Tehran to play to help end the war, Kirby said, "So if you're asking me what can they do to be helpful, stop supporting the Assad regime, stop supporting [Lebanon's] Hezbollah, and agree to work towards a successful political transition."