News / USA

US, Iran Reportedly Prepared for Direct Talks on Iraq

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference.
FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference.
Victor Beattie
As international talks on Iran’s nuclear program resume Monday in Vienna, the Obama administration is reportedly ready to open direct talks with Tehran on how they might blunt a Sunni militant offensive in Iraq. While one U.S. lawmaker indicated a need for Washington to work with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is reaching out to the international community, including Iraq’s neighbors.

The Wall Street Journal reports the Obama administration is preparing to open direct talks with Iran on how the two longtime foes can counter the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq. It says such a dialogue between the two countries, which have not had diplomatic relations in more than 30 years, is expected to begin this week, even as the United States and other world powers try to reach an agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program ahead of a July 20 deadline.

On Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is ready to help Iraq fight the militants known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  He also left open the door to possible cooperation with Washington.

Also on Saturday, Kerry told his Iraqi counterpart, Hoshyar Zebari, the United States is committed to supporting Iraq, saying it was reaching out to the international community and Iraq’s regional neighbors on the need to come to Iraq’s aid.  

Drone strikes possible

In an interview with Yahoo News Monday, Kerry said drone strikes could also be used in Iraq, adding that the country is "a strategic U.S. partner and vital" to the stability of the region as a whole.

At the Pentagon, Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters there was "absolutely no intention and no plan to coordinate military activities" with Iran because of the situation in Iraq.  Kirby did not rule out possible discussions with Iran on the sidelines of the P5+1 talks.

On Friday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf insisted Washington is not talking to Iran about Iraq.

"What we’ve said is that all of Iraq’s neighbors, including the Iranians, need to not do things to destabilize the situation further, to not try to promote sectarian tensions," Harf said. "What we’re focused on is that Iraq is a sovereign country, a sovereign nation. They make prudent decisions on how they will address the crisis that they’re going through right now."

She could not confirm reports Iranian forces are already on the ground in Iraq.

Sunday, on the CBS news program Face the Nation, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham backed a dialogue with Iran.

"We need to all make sure that Baghdad doesn’t fall," Graham said. "So, yes, we need a dialogue of some kind with the Iranians, but we also need to put them on notice; don’t use this crisis as a way to create a satellite state."

But, Congressman Mike Rogers, appearing on the Fox News Sunday broadcast, said such a bilateral dialogue would be a mistake. He said it would be a failure of U.S. leadership if Washington does not turn to the Arab League to confront this militant threat to Iraq.

The Wall Street Journal says any U.S. campaign in Iraq seen as allied with Iran and Iraq’s Shi’ite majority could risk polarizing the country further and alienating Sunni-dominated countries such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Great potential

Amin Saikal, chairman of the Center of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, however, sees great potential in direct talks between Washington and Tehran.

"Now that American and Iranian interests in the region overlap, both countries are very much opposed to extremists taking ground in the country like Iraq and, for that matter, also in Syria," Saikal noted. "Although the United States still remains very much opposed to the Assad regime in Syria, it nonetheless [is] equally opposed to Islamist militants taking over Syria, and Iran has very strong leverage in both Iraq and Syria and is in a position to help the United States in order to help contain the spread of extremism in that region."

As for the nuclear talks, Saikal says there is a consensus building within Iran’s leadership to reach a comprehensive agreement so international sanctions can be lifted to allow the economy to improve.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said Thursday the so-called P5+1 talks are in a critical stage.  At issue is how much uranium-enrichment capacity Iran should be allowed to maintain.

Enriched uranium can have both civilian and military applications. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other Western powers suspect Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Stephen Zunes, a Mideast scholar at the University San Francisco, says Iran has long viewed the nuclear talks as a way to gain international attention to its important role in the region.

"For some time now, Iran has hoped that diplomatic talks with the United States on the nuclear issue could be expanded to look at broader economic, diplomatic and strategic cooperation," Zunes said. "Indeed, one reason Iran has taken a hard line in the talks is that they don’t feel comfortable about this being the only issue in which they always seem to be on the defensive. And, observers have long argued, in fact, that the chances of getting a nuclear deal would be greatly enhanced if it would part of broader talks regarding Iran’s role in the region and for Western powers to recognize that, for better or worse, Iran is a major regional actor and they need to work together."

Zunes said the crisis in Iraq may be an example of why such expanded talks with Tehran may be necessary.  

The United States is sending its second-highest ranking diplomat to lead the American delegation in Vienna, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. He helped reach an interim agreement with Iran last November, in which Tehran would limit enrichment for six months in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

Jeff Seldin contributed to this report from the Pentagon, some information for this report provided by Reuters

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
June 16, 2014 3:26 PM
Iran’s decision to send in troops is nothing more than a pre-emptive attempt to keep another regime upright that is falling to popular discontent and preserve the string of friendly governments it is seeking to boost in the region. Iran’s mullahs recognize correctly that their precarious hold on regional power under strict Shiite control is in danger of slipping and as such have to go all in to preserve it. It’s an old recipe for them they have already practiced in Syria for two years. The irony here is the perception that the West and Iran might both be on the same side of supporting Maliki which is a dangerous assumption to make.


by: meanbill from: USA
June 16, 2014 1:03 PM
Iran would like to know what side the US is on in this Sunni revolt against the Shia led government of Iraq -- the US supplied the weapons to the extremists/terrorists including the (ISIL) invading Iraq from Syria -- (AND?) -- the US trained the Sunni (Security Forces) that took off their uniforms in the streets, and left without firing a shot, to join in an alliance with the extremists/terrorists including the (ISIL), to attack and overthrow the Iraq Shia led government? -- (NOW?) -- (Who's side is America on?)

by: meanbill from: USA
June 16, 2014 12:03 PM
CRAZY isn't it? -- The Iraq neighboring Sunni countries of Turkey, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, are supplying the extremists/terrorists including the (ISIL), with weapons supplied by the US, EU, and NATO countries -- (AND?) -- these extremists/terrorists including the (ISIL), has joined with Sunni (US trained Security Forces) with their US heavy military equipment in Iraq, (in a revolt), to overthrow the Shia led Maliki Iraq government?

QUESTION? -- The whole Islamic world is erupting in chaos, violence, killings, destruction and wars, (in all the countries the US, EU, and NATO countries interfered in), like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, and Syria?

NOW TELL ME? -- Everybody knows that the US, EU, and NATO countries that are interfering in all these Islamic countries causing this chaos, violence, killings, destruction and wars, are the good guys, don't we? -- (AND?) -- Everybody knows that Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, are the bad guys, even though none of them are involved in any of these countries? --- CRAZY isn't it? -- who the good guys are?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs