Kerry open to communicating with Iran on ISIS

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration is ready to communicate with Iran in the bid to stop ISIS, Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“We’re not coordinating with Iran, but as I said, we’re open to have a conversation at some point in time if there’s a way to find something constructive,” Kerry told reporters on Monday in Paris, where the United States had convened a meeting of 26 countries ready to coalesce in the effort to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorist organization.

Iranian leaders have in recent days furiously rebuffed such overtures, in part because Kerry, deferring to Saudi Arabia, would not allow Iran to attend the Paris meeting. Iran is assisting the Iraqi and Syrian governments in their efforts to stop the group.

Israel’s government is opposed to any U.S. coordination with Iran, in part to keep Iran’s influence in check and also to keep Iran from using such coordination to influence the Iran nuclear talks.

Kerry reiterated the pledge made by President Obama last week, when he announced plans to destroy ISIS, that there would be no coordination with the Bashar Assad regime in Syria, although Kerry said the United States would seek to avoid “bad things” in undertaking any action in Syria.

“We’re not going to coordinate with the Syrians,” Kerry said. “We’ve made that very, very clear. But there are all kinds of ways of communicating to avoid mistakes or disasters and not – strike the word ‘disasters’ – there are all kinds of ways of avoiding bad things. And I’m not going to go into them, but we’re not going to coordinate.”

Syria also counts ISIS as an enemy, but the Obama administration is backing some of the rebels who are seeking to topple Assad.