US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mary Harf has said that the US would be more open to Iran’s participation in the Geneva II conference if Tehran supported the Geneva communiqué that calls for the formation of a transitional government in Syria.
The US accuses Iran of supporting President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime during the more than two years long war, which has so far claimed the lives of more than 100 thousand people.
The Geneva communiqué was issued on 30 June 2012 during the Geneva I conference and charts a path to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The statement was approved by the US, Russia, Gulf States and Iraq. However Iran never approved the statement because it was not invited to attend the talks.
Russia and the US agreed in May to hold a Geneva II conference to implement the statement, which calls for a transitional government to be formed in Syria. According to the statement, the government in Damascus and the opposition will choose the transitional government, a move that effectively excludes the option of President Assad remaining in power, according to the US. However, the statement does not clearly state that.
US Secretary of State John Kerry originally hoped that the conference might be held in November, but international diplomatic efforts have recently focused all attention on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal following a chemical attack using sarin gas on 21 August, which reportedly killed more than a thousand people.
On Iran’s role in the conflict, Harf further explained the US position: “We’ve been clear, multiple times, about Iran’s destructive role in the Syrian crisis and our expectation is that any party that is included in Geneva II must accept and publicly support the Geneva communiqué.” She added, “If, and this is an if, Iran were to endorse and embrace the Geneva communiqué publicly, [then] we would view the possibility of their participation more openly,” later on phrasing the latter as more “favourably”.