Kerry won't be drawn into back and forth with Iran

2014-09-15 20:47
John Kerry. (Jacquelyn Martin, AP)

John Kerry. (Jacquelyn Martin, AP)

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Paris - US Secretary of State John Kerry refused be drawn into a "back and forth" with Iran on Monday following Tehran's assertion that it had rebuffed a US request to coordinate a response to the Islamic State jihadist group.

"I'm not going to get into a back and forth. I don't want to do that. I don't think that is constructive, frankly," Kerry told reporters at the US ambassador's residence in Paris after an international conference on Iraq attended by 26 countries.

Kerry was speaking after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tehran had vetoed a US invitation to cooperate in fighting Islamic State.

"The American ambassador in Iraq asked our ambassador [in Iraq] for a session to discuss coordinating a fight against Daesh [Islamic State]," said Khamenei, in quotes carried on state news agency IRNA.

Asked if that news was false, Kerry replied, "I have no idea of what inter-operation they drew from any discussion that may or may not have taken place. We are not coordinating with Iran. Period."

He said he was "hopeful" Tehran and Washington could find common ground in the next round of nuclear peace talks, which begin on Thursday.

"I don't express levels of optimism on it. I'm hopeful that it will be possible to find a way to reach an agreement that is important to the world but there is some very difficult issues," he said.

"There still needs to be some movement on them. And I hope Iran will do everything in its power to be creative and thoughtful and helpful in the process and that's what we both need to be," he said.

Earlier on Monday, world powers backed military measures on Monday to help defeat Islamic State fighters in Iraq, boosting Washington's efforts to set up a coalition, but made no mention of the tougher diplomatic challenge next door in Syria.

Read more on:    isis  |  john kerry  |  us airways  |  iran

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