US, Iran may confer on Iraq during nuclear talks

 

Officials from the United States this week could confer on the ongoing crisis in Iraq with representatives from the Iranian government as the two sides meet for nuclear negotiations in Vienna.

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While the discussions are “focused solely” on Tehran’s atomic program, “it may be that on the margins of the (nuclear meeting), but completely unconnected to it, there may be some conversation,” a senior administration official told Reuters.

Both countries have been caught off guard by the lightning-fast march of Islamic extremists across Iraq. The al-Qaeda linked group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has captured two major cities and a major town in the country, and its forces are reportedly within 100 miles of Baghdad.

CBS News reported on Monday that the chief of Iran’s elite paramilitary Quds force is in Baghdad along with a group of Iranian fighters.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryUS climate chief's goal: ‘Set in motion’ climate work over next five years Trump's VP: Top 10 contenders Peace equality and stability for religious minorities MORE on Monday did not reject the idea of working with Iran to quell the uprising.

“Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements,” Kerry told Yahoo News.

On Sunday Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamNever Trump voices face tough decision Trump: GOP critics can come back after my 'two terms' Graham: GOP has 'lost its way' on Trump MORE (R-S.C.), who has called for airstrikes to halt the militant group’s progress, said cooperation with Tehran might be necessary to stabilize Iraq.

“We’re going to probably need their help to hold Baghdad,” he said on CBS’s "Face the Nation."

The nuclear negotiations are set to run Monday through Friday.