(AA) – The EU’s foreign policy chief on Tuesday talked about Iran’s role in the Middle East following thawing relations with the West as a result of nuclear talks.
Federica Mogherini told reporters at the UN’s New York headquarters that she hoped Iran, an pariah state since the 1979 Islamic revolution, could play a “major but positive role” in helping resolve conflicts in the Middle East, particularly in Syria where it has significant influence with the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The success of negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program could clear the way for “a different role of Iran in the region,” she added.
Earlier this month, Iran and the P5+1 countries – the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France and China plus Germany – reached a framework deal that envisages Tehran curbing its nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief. The parties have until June 30 to reach a final agreement.
“The best possible approach you can have is on one side the positive outcome of the nuclear talks so that we can make sure that they cannot develop a nuclear weapon and on the other side to call for Iran to play a major, a major but positive role in Syria in particular,” Mogherini said.
She said Iran should contribute to a solution to end Syria’s four-year civil war that has seen more than 220,000 killed, according to UN estimates, and “finding a way to a truly Syrian-led transition in the country.”
The UN’s special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is to hold meetings in early May in Geneva with Syrian parties as well as regional and world powers to explore achieving peace.
De Mistura announced last week that Iran “is a major player in the region and has influence in Syria” and would be asked to attend.
Meanwhile, Mogherini held a closed meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif later on Tuesday to discuss efforts to reach a long-term nuclear deal.
Both diplomats were in New York to attend a UN conference on the global nuclear weapons proliferation treaty.