The US on Saturday said that it was not holding any talks with Iran on the unfolding developments in Iraq, wherein militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has gained control of a portion of the country.
“No, we are not talking to the Iranians about Iraq,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters when asked about the possibility of any direct or indirect contacts with Iran on the Iraq crisis.
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“What we’ve said is that all of Iraq’s neighbours, including the Iranians, need to not do things to destabilize the situation even further, to not try to promote any sectarian tensions. We’ve been very clear about that publicly,” she added.
US and Iranian diplomats are headed to Vienna next week to hold talks on the latter’s controversial nuclear programme, she said, adding that Iraq is not on the agenda.
“We are going back to Vienna next week for the nuclear negotiations, which are focused on the nuclear issue,” she said.
“I’m just not going to speculate about what this might look like going forward. What we’re focused on is the fact that Iraq is a sovereign country,” Harf said.
“They make prudent decisions on how they will address the crisis that they’re going through right now. (We) would urge all of Iraq’s neighbors to not undertake efforts to promote sectarian tensions in any way,” Harf said.
Earlier in the day, US President Barack Obama had called for Iraq’s neighbor to address the challenge being posed by the militant group in Iraq.
“Iraq’s neighbors also have some responsibilities to support this process. Nobody has an interest in seeing terrorists gain a foothold inside of Iraq, and nobody is going to benefit from seeing Iraq descend into chaos.
“So the US will do our part, but understand that ultimately it’s up to the Iraqis, as a sovereign nation, to solve their problems,” Obama said.
Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said there is nothing to confirm that Iranian Special Forces are in Iraq.
“I’ve seen the press reporting on that, but I have nothing to confirm that there are Iranian special forces inside Iraq. I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,”he said.
“The only thing I would say is that we encourage all of Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran, to play a constructive role in Iraq clearly and given the challenges they’re facing but also in the region,” Kirby said.