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We need to open route through to IS: Jeremy Corbyn

By Gavin Cordon

Published 18/01/2016

Interview: Jeremy Corbyn
Interview: Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn has said there must be a "route through" to Islamic State to help bring about an end to the conflict in Syria in the same way there was secret dialogue between London and the IRA.

The Labour leader said governments in the Middle East were already "in touch" with IS, which he compared to the "back channel" that existed between the British government and the IRA during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

"The British government maintained a channel to the IRA all through the Troubles. I don't condemn them for that, I don't condemn them for keeping a back channel to the Taliban," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"There has to be a route through somewhere. A lot of the commanders in Isil (another name for IS) - particularly in Iraq, but also in Syria - are actually former officers in the Iraqi army.

"Dialogue is perhaps the wrong word to use, but there has to be some understanding of where their strong points are, where their weak points are, and how we can challenge their ideology.

"I believe that the neighbouring governments in the region are in touch. Look at the way in which there has been some degree at times of prisoner exchange, hostage exchange - things like that. We have got to bring about a political solution in Syria."

During a wide-ranging interview, Mr Corbyn appeared to suggest that a Labour government could retain the Trident nuclear deterrent, but that the submarines would be put to sea without their nuclear warheads.

He also called for a "sensible dialogue" with Argentina over the future of the Falkland Islands and pledged to repeal the Conservative laws outlawing sympathy strikes.

On Trident, while he reiterated his long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons, he pointed out that the submarines could be deployed without their nuclear warheads on board.

"They don't have to have nuclear warheads on them. There are options there. The paper that (shadow defence secretary) Emily Thornberry has put forward is a very interesting one, deserves a very good study and read of it," he said.

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