US open to talks with Iran over Iraq: Kerry

US open to talks with Iran over Iraq: Kerry

The US is open to any "constructive" discussions with Iran over the deteriorating security in Iraq, Secretary of State John Kerry said, with the Pentagon asserting there are no plans to consult Tehran on any military action in the war-torn country.

"We're open to discussions if there's 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 the ability of the government to reform…," Kerry told Yahoo News in an interview.

Soon thereafter the Pentagon said there are no plans of military co-operation with Iran on the issue of Iraq.

"We have seen the comments made by Secretary Kerry. There are discussions going on with Iran surrounding P5+1 and it's possible that on the sidelines of those discussions there could be discussions surrounding situations in Iraq. But there is absolutely no intention and no plan to co-ordinate military activities between the United States and Iran," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby, told reporters.

"P5+1" refers to the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.There are no plans to have consultations with Iran about military activities in Iraq, Kirby reiterated.

"We encourage Iran like all neighbors to play a constructive role, to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq, while Iraq is going through this difficult time," Kirby said.

In his interview to Yahoo news, Kerry said one has to see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before the United States start making any pronouncements.

"I think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimise the violence, hold Iraq together, the integrity of the country, and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart," he said.

"Can you see cooperating with Iran militarily?" Kerry was asked.

"At this moment, I think we need to go step by step and see what, in fact, might be a reality, but I wouldn't rule out anything that would be constructive to providing real stability, a respect for the constitution, a respect for the election process, and a respect for the ability of the Iraqi people to form a government that represents all of the interests of Iraq, not one sectarian group over another," he responded.Kerry said, Iraq is facing  an existential challenge.

Kerry also said that US air strikes, including from unmanned drones, "may well" be an option that President Barack Obama chooses to try to halt the advance of fighters from the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL.

ISIL has taken Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul in an offensive that has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops.

Asserting that the US is deeply committed to the integrity of Iraq as a country, he said the US is deeply committed to the constitutional process.

"But we've also had great difficulties with the existing government in their unwillingness to reach out and be inclusive and bring people to the table and be sufficiently responsible in their pluralistic approach to governance. So that also has contributed to this," he said.

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