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Iran invited to next round of Syria talks - US officials

Iran is being invited to participate for the first time in international talks aimed at peacefully ending Syria's four-year civil war, according to US officials.

The next diplomatic round starts in Vienna on Thursday. US secretary of state John Kerry, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and several top European and Arab diplomats will attend.

The officials said Russia delivered the invitation, and Iran has yet to respond.

Washington had held out the possibility of Iran joining the discussions. But Syria's Western-backed opposition and US allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, opposed such a move.

Iran has backed Syrian president Bashar Assad's government throughout the conflict, fighting alongside Syria's military. The US and its allies support the opposition.

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