US Open To Cooperating With Iran on Iraq, Kerry Says

(Yahoo! News)

The United States and Iran may find themselves unlikely allies in the fight against Sunni extremists in Iraq, Secretary of State John Kerry indicated today.

Kerry said the United States would be willing to work with Iran on ways to stem the progress of ISIS, the militant army whose formal name is the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

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"We're open to discussions," Kerry said during an interview with Yahoo News' Katie Couric . "I think we might be open to any constructive process that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together, the integrity of the country, and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces."

Iranian President Hassan said over the weekend that Iran is willing to help Iraq if asked and that is also open to cooperating with the U.S. on Iraq.

"Whenever the United States makes a move on the ISIS, then we can think about cooperation with them in Iraq," Rouhani said over the weekend.

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Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, however, that there are no plans to coordinate military activities with Iran.

Kerry said he did not think Iran, a Shiite Muslim country, had already brought soldiers into the area, but said he was concerned that Iran's involvement could spur the involvement of Shiite militias that are not under the control of the Iraqi government. ISIS is a Sunni Muslim force and has vowed to destroy Shiite shrines in Iraq.

Kerry insisted that if there is to be any cooperation between the United States and Iran over Iraq, it must not be geared towards giving Shiites dominance over the country. Kerry also said that Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki must do a better job of being inclusive towards all ethnicities in his government.

A senior administration official told reporters earlier today that Iraq will not factor into nuclear negotiations with Iran in Vienna this week, but that Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns could discuss a political solution in Iraq with his Iranian counterparts on the sidelines of those talks.

During the Yahoo webcast, Kerry also said that President Obama is still weighing his options with regard to Iraq, but indicated that drone strikes are still an option.

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