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AFP

US says not talking to
Iran on Iraq crisis

WASHINGTON - The United States is not holding talks with its traditional foe Iran on the crisis in Iraq, the State Department said Friday, despite Washington and Tehran's shared interest in supporting Baghdad.

 

"No, we are not talking to the Iranians about Iraq," spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters when asked about the possibility of any direct or indirect contacts.

 

Even though the US and Iran have not had diplomatic relations for three decades, the two countries held bilateral talks this week in Geneva as they seek to hammer out a deal with global powers on reining in Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

 

The US was "focused on the nuclear issue," Harf said, adding she would not speculate on where ties would go in the future.

 

"What we said is that all of Iraq's neighbors -- including the Iranians -- need to not do things to destabilize the situation even further, to not try to promote any sectarian tensions."

 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised Iraq's beleaguered Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki his government's full support against "terrorism" on Friday as Sunni Arab militants advanced towards Baghdad.

 

Shiite Iran is a key ally of Maliki, whose government has been left in disarray by the collapse of its security forces since Monday in northern and north-central Iraq.

 

Rouhani told Maliki in a telephone call that Tehran would do its utmost to "combat the massacre and crimes of the terrorists," his office said.

 

Iran "will not allow the supporters of terrorists to destabilize Iraq," he said.

 

Harf agreed that both Washington and Tehran had a "shared interest" in what happens in Iraq, but said she had nothing further to say on the "internal calculations about who we're talking to right now about Iraq."

What we said is that all of Iraq's neighbors -- including the Iranians -- need to not do things to destabilize the situation even further, to not try to promote any sectarian tensions.