Fury as Labour’s Owen Smith suggests IS should join peace talks

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith has been accused of being unfit for high office after he suggested Islamic State (IS) would have to be brought into peace talks to end the Syrian civil war.

Mr Smith said that “all of the actors” involved in the conflict would have to be brought into the negotiations if there was to be a successful conclusion to the conflict.

His comments sparked an outcry, with one Conservative member of the Commons Defence Committee — former army officer Johnny Mercer — saying they showed his “unfitness for leadership”.

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said the remarks were “hasty and ill-considered”. In contrast to Mr Smith, the Labour leader insisted that there could be no place for the terror group at the negotiating table.

Asked by presenter Victoria Derbyshire in the BBC televised debate whether IS should be included in talks, Mr Smith referred to his time as a special adviser to Northern Ireland secretary Paul Murphy to argue that all parties to the conflict should be involved.

“Ultimately all solutions to these international crises do come about through dialogue so eventually, if we are to try and solve this, all of the actors do need to be involved.

Asked the same question, Mr Corbyn said: “They are not going to be round the table. No.”

A spokesman for Mr Smith later made clear that he believed there could be no negotiation with IS unless they “renounce violence, cease all acts of terror and commit themselves to a peaceful settlement”.


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