The Slatest

The U.S. Is Open to Working With Iran, but Iran Does Not Feel the Same Way

Making an offer they can refuse?

Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that the United States would be willing to work with Iran in its fight against ISIS, despite the fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted his outright rejection of a back-channel U.S. offer to cooperate.

From the Washington Post:

The Reuters news agency quoted Khamenei as telling Iran’s state television that the U.S. request was “hollow and self-serving,” echoing Iran’s claims that Western nations are seeking to expand their influence in the region as part of the campaign against the Islamic State.

The United States did not deny the outreach to Iran and said discussions with Tehran will continue — underscoring Iran’s influence in the region as well as the political complexities of bringing the Shiite powerhouse into the emerging international alliance against the Islamic State.

“I’m just going to hold open the possibility always of having a discussion that had the possibility of being constructive,” Kerry said, without providing substantive details about the U.S. request. “I’m not going to get into a back-and-forth.”

Khamenei’s pronouncements aside, Iran has indeed sent its allied Shiite militias to Iraq to fight ISIS alongside Western-backed Kurds.

France had wanted to invite Iran to the talks in Paris currently ongoing between representatives from 26 nations and a handful of international organizations. However, had Iran been in attendance, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would have boycotted, according to Kerry, which would have worked against the U.S. goal of building a regional coalition.