A senior American diplomat met with his Iranian counterpart in Vienna on Monday to explore whether the United States and Iran could work together to create a more stable Iraqi government and ease the threat from Sunni militants.
The initial meeting took place after Secretary of State John Kerry signaled that the Obama administration was open to cooperating with Iran on Iraq, raising the possibility of seeking help from a country that the United States has often described as a state sponsor of terrorism that must be prevented from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
The incentive for the United States is clear. Iran also has the ability to frustrate the Obama administration’s strategy of pressuring Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and his Shiite-dominated government to reach out to Sunnis and Kurds. President Obama made clear last week that no American military aid would be forthcoming unless that effort was made.
The meetings would also provide an opportunity for American officials to compare notes with Iran over the Sunni militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which last week made startling military gains, routing the Iraqi Army and even threatening Baghdad.
Mr. Kerry said in an interview with Yahoo! News on Monday morning that the United States was “open to discussions if there’s something constructive that can be contributed by Iran.”
“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,” he said.”
– The New York Times, "U.S. Is Exploring Talks With Iran on Crisis In Iraq"