US: ‘No plans’ for military coordination with Iran over IS

According to earlier report, Khamenei approves cooperation with US forces battling jihadist group

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (screen capture: Youtube)
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf (screen capture: Youtube)

The United States said Friday it has “no plans” for any military coordination with Iran in the fight against Islamic State fighters operating in Iraq and Syria.

“We are not going to coordinate military action or share intelligence with Iran and have no plans to do so,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, reacting to reports that Tehran had approved such an arrangement.

Harf said that Washington was “open to engaging” with Iran as it had in the past on select issues, notably on Afghanistan in late 2001, when the two sides worked to put Hamid Karzai into power after the fall of the Taliban.

“But we will not be coordinating our action together,” she added.

The BBC earlier reported, citing unnamed sources in Tehran, that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had approved cooperation with the US in the fight against Islamic State. But Iran’s foreign ministry said the report was not correct.

US and Iranian officials met Friday for a second day in Geneva as they work towards hammering out a full deal on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program ahead of a November deadline.

The two countries have not had diplomatic relations in more than 30 years, but in the past year have seen a bit of a rapprochement as they work on the nuclear deal.

Earlier Friday, US and Iranian officials met for a second day of negotiations in Switzerland Friday as they work towards hammering out a full nuclear deal ahead of a November deadline.

The US team led by Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and Under Secretary Wendy Sherman began meeting Thursday with an Iranian delegation led by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi in a luxury Geneva hotel.

No information filtered out from the first day of closed-door talks, and it remained unclear whether they would wrap up Friday or continue into Saturday.

EU and US officials did announce Thursday that broader talks would be held on September 18 in New York between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, and would be led by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

That will mark the first meeting of the so-called P5+1 and Iran since they failed to meet a July 20 deadline for implementing a comprehensive and complex deal on curbing Tehran’s enrichment capabilities and number of centrifuges.

The deadline has been pushed forward to November 24.

The West suspects Iran wants to acquire nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists the program is purely for peaceful purposes.

In exchange for accepting curbs on its nuclear activities, Iran wants a slew of crippling US, EU and UN sanctions to be lifted.

But any deal will have to be approved by the Islamic leadership in Tehran as well as by the US Congress, where many lawmakers are seeking to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran.

The Geneva talks come after Washington last weekend unleashed a new round of sanctions against Tehran.

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