JERUSALEM (TheStreet) -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry suggested Sunday that Iran could participate in peace talks on Syria from the sidelines, according to published media reports.
His comments were the first by a U.S. official indicating Iran might play some role in the talks, which are scheduled for Jan. 22 in Geneva.
Previously, the Obama administration had opposed any Iranian participation unless Tehran agreed to the ground rules of the conference, The Washington Post reported.
"Well, Iran could participate very easily if they would simply accept publicly the Geneva I premise on which Geneva II is based...which calls for a transition government," Mr. Kerry was quoted saying by The Wall Street Journal. "Now, could they contribute from the sidelines? Are there ways for them conceivably to weigh in? Can their mission that is already in Geneva be there in order to help the process? It may be that there are ways that that could happen."
Until now, the U.S. had joined France and Saudi Arabia in objecting to Iran's participation in the talks, while Russia and the United Nations' special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, had supported Iran's presence, The Wall Street Journal noted.
Kerry added that the U.S. still insisted upon all conference participants agreeing that the goal of the talks will be a framework for a transitional entity in Syria, The Washington Post reported.
Kerry was speaking during a conference in Israel.