U.S. says talks with Iran won't be about military cooperation in Iraq
Monday, June 16, 2014 - 01:42
June 16 - The U.S. says possible talks with Iran over Iraq would not be about military cooperation but would focus instead on pressing for a non-sectarian solution. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Sources tell Reuters U.S. and Iranian officials met on Monday in Vienna, where they discussed the security situation in Iraq.
The talks happened on the sidelines of separate nuclear negotiations.
Both the U.S. and neighboring Shiite Iran have been alarmed by the stunning advance of Sunni insurgents in Iraq.
The militants have swept through northern Iraq in just one week.
So alarmed, there was talk that Washington and Tehran -- adversaries for decades -- might cooperate with a military response.
But earlier on Monday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said any potential talks with Iran would NOT involve military cooperation.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) JEN PSAKI, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON, SAYING:
"I would remind you that we've had similar conversations in the past with Iran, regarding Afghanistan. These consultations would be along those lines. We're not talking about coordinating any military action in Iraq, with Iran."
Instead, the U.S. may urge Tehran to press the Shiite-led government in Iraq to seek a non-sectarian solution out of the current crisis.
Washington has urged Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri-al Maliki, a majority Shiite, to reach out to Iraq's Sunni minority.
But Maliki has spoken more about retaliation than reconciliation.
He's vowed to crush the uprising.
Iran has long-standing ties to Maliki and other Shiite politicians who came to power in U.S.-backed elections.
Talks between the U.S. and Iran not involve military cooperation, but they could mark a momentous step in U.S. engagement with its longtime adversary.
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