The US plans to hold direct talks with Iran on strife-torn Iraq, where al-Qaeda-inspired militants have seized a portion of the country posing a serious threat to the regional stability, a media report said. Quoting unnamed senior Administration officials, The Wall Street Journal reported that the direct US-Iran talks is expected to begin next week. This, the daily reported, will mark the latest in a rapid move toward rapprochement between the two counties over the past year. “It also comes as the US and other world powers try to reach an agreement with Iran by late July to curb its nuclear program”, the Journal said.
The report came days after a statement from the Iranian leadership that it was open to talks with the US on Iraq. “When the US takes action, then one can think about cooperation. Until today, no specific request for help has been demanded. But we are ready to help within international law”, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani said last week. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Wendy R Sherman will lead the US delegation at the fifth meeting in the comprehensive nuclear negotiations of the P5+1 political directors with Iran under the leadership of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. She will be joined today by Deputy Secretary of State, William Burns for the initial meetings, the State Department said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State, John Kerry reached out to his counterparts in the Middle East region to discuss with them on the fast unfolding developments in Iraq. Kerry made calls to Jordanian Foreign Minister, Nasser Judeh, Emirati Foreign Minister, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Qatari Foreign Minister, Khalid Al-Attiyah to discuss the threat posed by the ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria, a Senior State Department official said.
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“With each of his counterparts, Kerry addressed the need to support the Iraqi and Syrian people in confronting terrorists who also pose a threat to nations throughout the region and beyond, including to the US”, the official said. They also discussed the need for the Iraqi leaders to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to forge the national unity necessary to move the country forward, the official said.
Kerry pledged to keep in close contact with each of the ministers in the coming days, during which he will continue reach out to other regional counterparts, the Senior State Department Official said.