Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has said the West should involve Assad and his allies Iran and Russia in the coalition to combat ISIS with conciliatory comments towards Assad by a Western official on Tuesday.
While many Western powers insist Assad must leave power due to the catastrophic situation in Syria which has led to almost 250,000 deaths including those of many children and women, Iran and Russia say he is part of the solution.
"We need a pragmatic common approach in this respect including the involvement of Assad in the fight against ISIS terror," Sebastian Kurz told reporters during a state visit to Tehran.
Kurz also said, "In my opinion the priority is the fight against terror. This will not be possible without powers such as Russia and Iran."
While some European Union officials have been privately saying that the time has come to increase communication with Damascus to combat ISIS, few officials have made this stance public.
He added that "one should not forget the crimes that Assad has committed, but also not forget the pragmatic view of the fact that in this fight we are on the same side."
After visits to Iran by some European leaders including those of England, France and Spain, Austria is the first European country to pay a visit at the ‘’presidential level.’’
Despite concern over the human rights record of Iran, Austria president Heinz Fischer made no mention of the issue.
“Austria is a land of dialogue. We reject violence. We want to build bridges and want to seize every opportunity to reduce tensions and promote a climate that promises a better future than if we remain stuck in confrontation,” said Fischer.