06:14 GMT +314 October 2019
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    Thomas Pickering

    Openings Exist for US-Iran Cooperation on Syria - Former Ambassador

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    Former US Ambassador to Russia and career diplomat Thomas Pickering claimed that the successful negotiation of the Iran nuclear agreement could present an opportunity for the United States to coordinate more openly with Iran on mutual interests in Syria and Iraq.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The successful negotiation of the Iran nuclear agreement could present an opportunity for the United States to coordinate more openly with Iran on mutual interests in Syria and Iraq, retired US career ambassador Thomas Pickering said at a Friday press conference.

    "There will be, as a result of this, certainly an opportunity… to begin to talk to Iran, about two issues that constitute, in the view of many of us, potential low-hanging fruit," Pickering said at a Center on Global Interests conference on the Iran nuclear deal.

    Both the United States and Iran share an interest in ensuring that a Taliban government does not come to power in Afghanistan, and in coordinating operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Pickering stated.

    He explained that the United States has already been working with Iran "in a backhanded way" in Iraq, by coordinated US bombing and training missions with Iranian training and military operations.

    In Syria, the United States has "in effect, a no fly zone" based on an understanding by the Syrian government that its air force should be grounded "when American plans are bombing," Pickering added.

    The US government has not officially admitted to working with Iran in the fight against the ISIL, but has acknowledged the role of Shia-trained fighters in rolling back the ISIL militants.

    The White House has repeatedly said that the signing of the Iran nuclear agreement does not guarantee cooperation in other areas of diplomatic interest. The United States stated that it will keep pressure on Iran in areas where the two maintain fundamental policy disagreements.

    Pickering noted that as a result of the Iran nuclear agreement, "there are opportunities that lie out there, hidden at the moment, in Syria." He underscored the possibility of the two countries "coming together on a transitional government."

    In August, the UN Security Council reached a unanimous agreement on a resolution aimed at a political transition process in Syria.

    In recent weeks, the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia have established a trilateral contact group on Syria working toward a political resolution of the ongoing crisis.

    Despite Iran’s role in the region, the US State Department has said it is not currently considering bringing Tehran into the three party talks.


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