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Germany's Steinmeier: Nuclear deal 'opening' for Mideast diplomacy

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has urged Iran to cooperate in efforts to end the war in Syria. He also called the recent nuclear deal with Tehran "an opening for further diplomatic endeavors."

On the first extended visit to Iran by a German foreign minister in 12 years, Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Saturday called on Tehran to help end the conflict in Syria.

He said he hoped that Iran would use its influence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "to make sure that we take the first steps towards de-escalation in Syria."

After meeting his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif, Steinmeier said that while Berlin and Tehran did not have congruent views on the Syrian conflict, they had "a common interest in ensuring an end to the killings."

Iran, along with Russia, is a key backer of the Syrian government. The conflict in Syria started with peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011, which erupted into war after a harsh government crackdown.

The civil conflict has killed more than 250,000 people so far, according to UN estimates.

'Iran's turn to meet the requirements'

Pointing to the conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Steinmeier underlined: "The region needs more diplomacy, not less." The recent nuclear deal between Iran and the West was "an opening for further diplomatic endeavors" to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East.

The nuclear agreement, reached in July, allows Iran to maintain a civilian nuclear program but requires Tehran to show that it is not seeking to build nuclear weapons.

"Now it's Iran's turn to meet the requirements that were agreed in exchange for an agreement to lift sanctions," Steinmeier stated, adding: "We will know only in a few months whether the agreement was a success."

He urged Iran to meet its obligations, including allowing nuclear inspections under the nuclear deal.

After his visit to Tehran, Steinmeier is due to travel on Sunday to Saudi Arabia, which is Iran's main rival in the region.

das/tj (AFP, dpa)

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