US, Iran talk in Geneva

U.S. and Iranian officials on Monday briefly discussed Iraq on the margins of talks in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program.

“We are open to engaging the Iranians, just as we are engaging other regional players on the threat [posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria],” a senior State Department official said of the talks. 

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The U.S. and Iran in recent day have both expressed a willingness to talk to one another about Iraq.

However, the White House and the Pentagon said discussions would not cover any military cooperation.

“These engagements will not include military coordination or strategic determinations about Iraq’s future over the heads of the Iraqi people,” the State official said. 

The U.S. and Iran have a common enemy in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a Sunni Muslim extremist group that has taken over broad swaths of territory in Iraq. Shiite-dominant Iran has been an ally to Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki, who is also Shiite.

The State Department official said the U.S. would be talking about how the group represents a threat to many countries in the region.

According to news reports, both Iran and the U.S. have begun sending military assets to the region. 

Iran has reportedly sent advisers to Baghdad, and the U.S. is sending as many as 275 U.S. troops to secure its embassy there. 

The U.S. has also repositioned several Navy ships to better deal with any Iraq contingencies.