Zarif Says Iran Open to Joining Syria Peace Talks
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claims that Iran is open to joining Syria peace talks in January if invited (Reuters)

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has declared that Tehran would be willing to take part in Syria peace talks in Geneva, scheduled for January, if they are invited.

"Participation of Iran in Geneva 2 is in our view an important contribution to the resolution of the problem. We have said all along that if Iran is invited, we will participate without any preconditions," Zarif told Iran's Press TV.

In a continuation of the increasingly moderate line taken by the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, Zarif has declared Iran's intention of seeking a resolution to the conflict.

Despite still supporting the Assad regime, Zarif's statement of concilliatory intent is in stark contrast to the prior Iranian policy of supporting the regime's crackdown on rebels by sending members of the Quds force and snipers to assist Assad's soldiers.

As one of the main backers of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad alongside Russia, Iran has played a complicit role in the conflcit that has lasted over two years, killed over 100,000 people and displaced over two million.

However, Iran sitting at the table with both parties in Geneva increases the odds of an agreement being signed in January.

Iran's unwillingness to sign last year's "Geneva 1" framework, an international accord on Syria, has led to western opposition of Iranian attendance at the peace talks in January next year.

Yet, after decades of icy relations between Iran and Washington, tensions have thawed since the election of Hassan Rouhani in June who has pledged to follow the line of "constructive engagement" with the west in order to alleviate the crippling effect of international sanctions caused by the Iranian nuclear programme.

This policy led to the landmark deal between Iran and the six world powers last week in Geneva which rolled back certain aspects of the nuclear programme.

Whether Iran is to be invited or not is unclear. Zaif stated that, whether Iran is invited or not, the resolution of the Syrian civil war was an issue of Iranian "national importance" and that Tehran would continue to work towards a peaceful outcome.

He denied reports that Syria was a topic of discussion during the historic nuclear talks with six world powers in Geneva last week.