WASHINGTON — The United States on Monday ruled out coordination with Iran over military actions against Islamic militants in Iraq, despite Washington’s declared willingness to have a military cooperation with Tehran.
“We’re not talking about coordinating any military action in Iraq with Iran,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters at a daily news briefing.
The remarks came after Secretary of State John Kerry told Yahoo! News earlier in the day that Washington was “open to discussions” with Tehran if it can contribute “something constructive” to help end the violence in Iraq.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby also said, “There is absolutely no intention, no plan to coordinate military activities between the United States and Iran.”
“We would encourage Iran to push the Iraqis to act to address problems in a non-sectarian way,” Psaki said, noting “There’s a role to play in reducing the sectarian nature of how Iraq is being governed.”
The Obama administration is mulling “a range of options” in support of the Iraqi security forces in combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, an offshoot of al-Qaida also known as ISIL, whose militants are pressing on to the capital city of Baghdad after seizing two major cities in northern Iraq — Mosul and Tikrit — in the past week.
Kerry said U.S. airstrikes, as requested by the Iraqi government, may be an option, but Washington has urged Baghdad to move politically in tandem to mend divisions.
Psaki also stressed that the United States did not support an Iranian military presence in Iraq, as Tehran has reportedly sent its elite forces to fight with the Iraqi forces.
“We don’t feel it’s useful for the Iraqis to rely on the capacity of Iran’s security forces,” she said.