Iranian Negotiations Must Succeed

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Does the Foreign Secretary agree that although his hard-headed but constructive response to the Iranian negotiations is the right one, if they do not succeed and the Iranians go back to Tehran without a deal, that will strengthen the Ahmadinejad-type hawks in Iran, so every opportunity must be taken to get that agreement while preserving the vital interests at stake? May I also ask about the Syrian situation? I worry about an apparent veto in advance as a precondition being struck by the opposition. Yes, they are willing to take part, but they seem to have imposed a precondition on that. Whatever the transition agreed—if there is one—I find it inconceivable that there will not be some elements of the existing regime in place, like it or not, in order to get an agreement

Mr Hague: On the latter point, let us remember that what is envisaged in the communiqué of Geneva I is a transitional authority formed from the opposition and the current regime, but by mutual consent, so when the right hon. Gentleman refers to elements of the regime in a transitional Government, yes, that is accepted in the transitional Government, but the composition has to be by mutual consent. As I was just saying to the shadow Foreign Secretary, I do not believe that the opposition, in setting out their view of that, are setting preconditions or an unreasonable position ahead of Geneva. It would be very, very surprising if they adopted any position different from that in the run-up to these negotiations.

On the first part of the question, I do agree broadly that there is a window of opportunity here for negotiations with Iran to succeed. That is why we are maintaining this pace of negotiations. With three meetings in the past month and another one planned for next week, we are not losing time in pursuing these negotiations.