Iran invited to next round of Syria talks: US

Iran has been invited to participate for the first time in international talks over Syria’s future, US officials said yesterday on condition of anonymity, adding that Iran has yet to reply.

The next diplomatic round is expected to start tomorrow and continue Friday in Vienna, with secretary of state John Kerry, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and several top European and Arab diplomats attending.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said while arrangements for Vienna were still being finalised: “We anticipate that Iran will be invited to attend this upcoming meeting.

“At some point in the discussion, moving toward a political transition, we have to have a conversation and a dialogue with Iran.”

The US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey met last week in Vienna, to revive diplomatic hopes. However, they remained deeply divided over Assad’s future.

Britain, France, Germany, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates will also attend this week’s gathering.

In Syria, fighting goes on. Since last month, Russia has launched hundreds of airstrikes targeting Islamic State and other terrorist groups. The Obama administration, NATO and others say most of the bombs are landing on moderate rebel militias, some backed by the CIA.

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