Kerry looks out for Iran help in Geneva 2 peace conference
JERUSALEM - The United States is open to "helpful" Iranian input during an upcoming peace conference in Switzerland aimed at ending Syria's war, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.
"We're happy to have Iran be helpful," he told reporters in Jerusalem.
"Everybody is happy to have Iran be helpful" during the so-called Geneva 2 conference on the Syrian conflict, which is estimated to have killed more than 130,000 people since March 2011.
But Kerry stressed that Iran, the chief ally of Damascus, must also move forward in negotiations on its own atomic programme, and cooperate with the international community on both Syria and the nuclear issue.
"Could they (Iranians) contribute from the sidelines? Are there ways, conceivably, to weigh in? Can their mission that is already in Geneva be there in order to help the (Syria) process? It may be that there are ways that can happen," he said.
"But that has to be determined by the (UN) Secretary General (Ban Ki-moon), it has to be determined by Iranian intentions.
"Iran knows exactly what it has to do with respect to the nuclear programme as well as with respect to Geneva 2... come join the community of nations and do what all of us are committed to doing, which is try to bring about a peaceful resolution in Syria," said Kerry.
The Geneva 2 conference, named because it is intended to follow a first peace meeting in the Swiss city of Geneva, is to be held nearby in Montreux.
After months of delays, a January 22 date for the talks has been set, but doubts remain about whether the conference will go ahead.
Syria's main opposition bloc, the National Coalition, has yet to categorically say it will attend the meeting, and warned recently it would not show up if government war planes continued an aerial campaign in northern Aleppo province that has killed over 500 people.
The Coalition, which is to begin holding a two-day general assembly meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, also insists President Bashar al-Assad cannot be part of any transition in Syria.
But the regime says Assad's departure from office will not be on the table at the peace talks.
Iran has agreed with world powers to rein in its disputed nuclear programme in return for international sanctions relief.
The international community suspects the Islamic republic is aiming to develop a nuclear warhead, but Tehran insists its atomic programme is peaceful.