Kerry 'confident' on start date for Syrian peace talks

Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "confident" the United States and its allies will be able to set a definitive start date for Syrian peace talks. 

"I’m confident that somewhere in the next days a date is going to be set," Kerry told reporters Thursday. 

"Whether it’s a week later or seven days . . . it’s going to give people time to prepare, it’s going to open up more opportunity for . . . the variations of options to be able to be explored," on how the talks will proceed," Kerry said during a press briefing with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh in Amman. 

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Kerry's comments come days after U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said talks between Washington and Moscow on how to proceed with the negotiations had stalled. 

"We were hoping that we would be in a position to announce a date today, [but] unfortunately we are not," Brahimi told reporters Tuesday in Geneva. 

His comments called into question whether Syrian peace talks can begin before the end of the year, the start date sought by the United Nations.  

Along with the United States and Russia, representatives from Britain, France and China, as well as diplomats from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and the Arab League attended the Geneva meeting to discuss a Syrian peace plan. 

But on Thursday, Kerry said all those who participated in the Geneva meeting are "heading in the right direction" in terms of getting peace talks on track. 

"I think a lot of clarity will come in the next days, and I’m not deterred . . . at all," by the standing disagreements between the U.S. and Russian delegations that arose on Tuesday. 

"We have a considerable amount of discussion that has taken place, and we’ve got . .  . a decent road ahead of us to continue to march down," toward removing longtime Syrian President Bashar Assad and ending the over two-year civil war in the country. 

"But it is important for us to be able to proceed carefully, quietly, and secretly, frankly," toward that goal, he added. 

One of the main stumbling blocks toward peace talks is possible Iranian involvement in those negotiations. 

Moscow has repeatedly called for Tehran to be included in the talks, arguing Iran's exclusion would eliminate a key regional player in the Mideast from having a say in the process. 

That said, the Obama administration has repeatedly slammed the idea of Iranian participation. 

“I don’t think anybody with a straight face could argue that Iran has had a positive impact on developments in Syria,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in July, when the idea of Iran's involvement was first raised by former U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan. 

The group will meet again on Nov. 25 in another attempt to set a start date for the talks, Brahimi said Tuesday. 

The proposed peace talks are a piece of a larger Syrian disarmament of its chemical weapons stockpiles, brokered by the U.S. and Russia earlier this year. 

On Thursday, international inspection teams announced they had completed its dismantlement on one of the two final chemical weapons facilities inside Syria. 

That said, inspectors have inspected 22 of the 23 sites declared in Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilitates located at those sites. 

The teams did not visit the final remaining site, however, due to safety and security concerns.