Kerry sees opportunity to work with Iran on Syria

Kerry sees opportunity to work with Iran on Syria
© Francis Rivera

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe continuous whipsawing of climate change policy Budowsky: United Democrats and Biden's New Deal Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil MORE said he sees a "major opportunity" to bring Iran into efforts to end the Syrian civil war as he met his Iranian counterpart ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"I view this week as a major opportunity for any number of countries to play an important role in trying to resolve some of the very difficult issues of the Middle East," Kerry told reporters alongside Iranian Minister Javad Zarif.

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"We need to achieve peace and a way forward in Syria, in Yemen, in the region itself. And I think there are opportunities this week through these discussions to make some progress."

It was the first meeting between the two top diplomats since they wrapped up negotiations on a landmark nuclear deal between word powers and Iran in Vienna.

That deal is now slated to take effect after efforts by opponents to block it in Congress faltered earlier this month.

Cooperating to end the long Syrian civil war could be complicated though with Iran's support for embattled leader Bashar Assad. Assad also has the backing of Russia, while the U.S. and other powers have called for him to relinquish power.

An Iranian official told Reuters that Tehran was also open to working to "achieve peace and a way forward in Syria, in Yemen... in the region."

Zarif told reporters that Iran's focus was on implementing the terms of the nuclear deal, calling it a "priority."

"That is the project that we started together, and we hope that by its full implementation – its good-faith implementation – we can vent some of the mistrust that has existed over the past many decades," he said.