Iran says it rebuffed US invitation to join anti-ISIL coalition

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had vetoed a U.S. invitation to cooperate, but Washington insisted it would not coordinate militarily with Iran against the militants.

Iran says it rebuffed US invitation to join anti-ISIL coalition

World Bulletin/News Desk

The United States on Monday ruled out any possibility of future military coordination with Iran in a U.S.-led coalition against ISIL fighters but held out the prospect of separate talks with Tehran on Iraq, describing the militants as a "serious threat" to Iran and the region.

The comments follow a statement by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Twitter on Monday in which he dismissed as hollow and self-serving U.S. efforts to build a coalition against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria, and rejected what he called a "U.S. offer to Iran" on ISIL.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Paski acknowledged U.S. and Iranian officials have discussed the crisis in Iraq on the sidelines of separate negotiations about the Iranian nuclear program in Vienna in June, but she said the United States was not coordinating militarily with Iran.

"I am not going to outline every diplomatic discussion. But we are not and will not coordinate militarily," she said in a statement.

"We will be continuing those talks on the nuclear issue later this week in New York. There may be another opportunity on the margins in the future to discuss Iraq," she said.

Iran says it backs the Syrian and Iraqi governments in their fight against the insurgents, but Tehran has not been included in a coalition being assembled by Washington mostly from Arab and Western states that will target the armed group.

"American officials' comments on forming an anti-ISIL (alliance) are blank, hollow and self-serving, and contradictions in their behaviours and statements attest to this fact," Khamenei told state television earlier on Monday.

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

"Our ambassador in Iraq reflected this to us, which was welcomed by some (Iranian) officials, but I was opposed. I saw no point in cooperating with a country whose hands are dirty and intentions murky."

He said it was Iran's choice not to work with the country the Islamic Republic has traditionally called the Great Satan, having also refused similar overtures to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his deputy Abbas Araqchi.

Khamenei rejected recent comments by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Washington was opposed to any Iranian role in a international coalition against ISIL.

"Now they (the U.S) are lying, in saying that it is them who excluded us from their coalition, while it was Iran that refused to participate in this collation to begin with," said Khamenei, 75, who left hospital on Monday following prostate surgery.

"American officials' comments on forming an anti-Islamic State (alliance) are blank, hollow and self-serving, and contradictions in their behaviours and statements attest to this fact," said Khamenei.

Khamenei said Washington wanted in Iraq what it had in Pakistan -- "a playground where they can enter freely and bomb at will".

"The Americans should keep in mind that if they go ahead with such a thing, then the same problems that they faced in Iraq in the past 10 years will come back," he said, referring to years of conflict between U.S. forces and an array of armed Iraqi groups.

Kerry said last week it would be inappropriate for Iran to join the coalition, repeating the U.S. view that Tehran is a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran denies that charge.

Members of the U.S.-led coalition met in Paris on Monday to discuss their campaign, with French President Francois Hollande calling for united international action to tackle what he termed a global the threat.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Eylül 2014, 17:04

Muhammed Öylek

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