West will need to get Islamic State "round the table" for talks - Owen Smith

The British Labour politician said solutions to international crises "do come about through dialogue"

West will need to get Islamic State "round the table" for talks - Owen Smith

Owen Smith. Image: Ben Birchall / PA Wire/Press Association Images

British Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith has appeared to suggest that the West should negotiate with Islamic State.

Asked in a televised hustings whether the terrorist group should be a part of a Syrian peace process, Mr Smith replied that "we will need to get people round the table".

Jeremy Corbyn, who was also on stage, distanced himself from the idea saying: "No, they're not going to be around the table, no."

The exchange came in a segment on foreign policy during the two-hour debate between the two men on the BBC.

The former shadow work and pensions secretary tried to justify his position by explaining his role in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

He said: "I was someone who worked on the peace process in Northern Ireland for three years.

"I was part of the UK's negotiating team that helped bring together the Irish paramilitaries, the DUP in particular in the process alongside Sinn Fein.

"My view is that ultimately all solutions to these sorts of crises, to these sorts of international crises do come about through dialogue.

"So eventually if we are to try and solve this all of the actors do need to be involved, but at the moment ISIL are clearly not interested in negotiating.

"At some point for us to resolve this we will need to get people round the table."

Following the programme, Mr Corbyn's team put out a statement saying: "Jeremy has always argued that there must be a negotiated political solution to the war in Syria and the wider Middle East, and that maintaining lines of communication during conflicts is essential.

"But ISIS cannot be part of those negotiations. Instead, its sources of funding and supplies must be cut off. Owen Smith's comments were hasty and ill-considered."