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Iran Press TV

Progress over Syria to be very difficult: Kerry

Iran Press TV

Fri Oct 30, 2015 5:37PM

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he hopes progress can be achieved at international talks in Vienna, Austria to resolve the years-long conflict in Syria, but it would be very difficult.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday after the talks, Kerry described the meeting as the "most promising opportunity for a political opening" in Syria after 4 1/2 years of deadly crisis.

However, he acknowledged that the US, Russia and Iran "agreed to disagree" on the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The top US diplomat said that Washington continues to believe that if Assad steps down it will smooth the path to an agreement to end the years-long deadly conflict in Syria, helping the fight to defeat the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.

Kerry acknowledged that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif disagreed with him, but all three would continue to work together in order to find a political solution to the crisis that has taken tens of thousands of lives.

Kerry and Lavrov both said that they had agreed that Syria must remain a unified state and the state institutions must remain intact.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The crisis has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people so far and displaced millions of others.

Kerry attended the talks along with 17 other foreign ministers from European and Middle Eastern countries.

However, the attendance of Iran, whose participation in Syria talks had previously been blocked by the US and Saudi Arabia, marks a shift that offers more hope for diplomacy.

European Union foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said Iran's inclusion is ground for hope for an eventual political settlement. "Only one week ago this was very difficult to anticipate. This is already a very relevant step," she said.

The invitation of Iran highlights the increased leverage of the country after Tehran and Moscow jointly launched military operations in defense of Syria's government last month.

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