Assad sets no date for Geneva, Kerry doubts Iran role on Syria talks

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday there was no date set for a long-delayed peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending the country’s civil war, while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry doubted Iran’s role in the proposed international conference.

“There is no date so far...And current factors do not help in holding it,” Reuters quoted Assad as saying in an interview. “Many questions about this conference are still on the table,” he told al-Mayadeen television.

Meanwhile, Kerry said on Monday he doubted how Iran could play a constructive role in the planned peace talks in Geneva without backing plans for a transitional government in Syria.

Speaking in Paris after talks with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah, Kerry said Iran had already not supported the implementation of a first round of talks in Geneva last year.

“So it’s very hard to see how Iran can be constructive in the absence of their willingness to come for the purpose of the negotiation,” Reuters quoted Kerry as saying.


“If they accept Geneva I, and want to be constructive in helping to set up a transitional government, that’s a different issue.”

Syrian opposition has long demanded Iran, a close ally to Damascus, not to participate in the proposed Geneva II.

Meanwhile, Kerry said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lasted in power due to support coming from Iran and the Lebanese Shiite guerilla group, Hezbollah.

He also said that Assad’s re-election would extend the 31-month Syrian conflict.

“If he thinks he’s going to solve problems by running for re-election, I can say to him, I think that certainly this war will not end as long as that’s the case that he’s there,” Agence France-Presse quoted Kerry as saying.

However, during Assad’s interview, he said that he is willing to run for re-election, adding he did not a reason why he should not.

“My answer depends on two factors. The first is the personal desire, and the second is the will of the people.

“Regarding the first point, the one related to me personally, I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t run in the next election.”

No foreign policy change

While Washington is keep to help moderate opposition in Syria, its foreign policy towards Damascus hasn’t changed, including that of Qatar as well, Kerry said.

Kerry was meeting Arab League representatives in Paris ahead of a Tuesday meeting in London of the Syrian opposition and its Western and Arab backers.

Kerry also reiterated the U.S. stance that “there is no military solution” to end the Syrian conflict.

Early September, Kerry rejected a military strike against Syria, but backed an “unbelievably small, limited kind” of attack that would not drag the U.S. into war.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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