The Pentagon is pushing back against a State Department assertion that there is the potential for a military coordination with Iran to help Iraq combat violent al Qaeda-inspired Sunni extremists.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Monday morning that although there is the potential for discussions with Iran about aggressive actions committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq, there is “no plan to consult Iran on military activities inside Iraq.”
Adm. Kirby made the clarification after Secretary of State John F. Kerry had made headlines earlier on Monday morning by saying Washington intended to give “a very thorough vetting of every option that is available” to minimize the amount of violence that ISIL is causing within the country.
Mr. Kerry refused to rule out the possibility of U.S.-Iranian military coordination in response to the situation in Iraq during during an interview with Yahoo! News.
“We’re open to discussions if there is something constructive that can be contributed by Iran, if Iran is prepared to do something that is going to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and ability of the government to reform,” the secretary of state said.
Adm. Kirby urged caution in the wake of Mr. Kerry’s statement.
“We’ve seen the comments made by the secretary and I’ll say, look, there’s discussions going on with Iran regarding the P5+1 and it’s possible on the sidelines of those discussions that there could be discussions surrounding the situation in Iraq,” he said. “But there is absolutely no intention and no plan to coordinate military activity between the United States and … Iran.”
The P5+1 is a group of six world powers, including the United States, that are committed to using their diplomatic efforts to convince Iran to scale back on its nuclear program. The group is currently in Vienna, Austria, for it fifth round of negotiations with the country.