SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest would not confirm a report Thursday that President Barack Obama secretly sent a letter to Iran’s leader, asking the Islamic republic to join the fight against ISIL.
Despite being insistently asked about the letter during a press briefing, Earnest said that he is not in a position to talk about any private correspondence between the president and any other world leader but added that the U.S.’s attitude toward Iran’s contribution to the anti-ISIL coalition remains unchanged.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Obama sent a letter last month to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in which he wrote about the shared interests that the U.S. and Iran had in the fight against the ISIL.
The article comes as the Nov. 24 deadline nears for nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries. The P5+1 include China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States and Germany.
“The United States will not cooperate militarily with Iran in that effort, we won’t share intelligence with them,” said Earnest, admitted that officials from both countries have discussed the ongoing campaign conducted against ISIL by the U.S.-led coalition on the sidelines of the nuclear talks.
The newspaper article claimed that in the letter, Obama said any Iranian contribution to the coalition would be contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with the P5+1 on Tehran’s nuclear program.
When asked about the contents of the letter, however, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that any contribution by Iran to the fight against ISIL would not be a prerequisite for the nuclear deal.
“Obviously, on the outskirts of meetings on that topic (nuclear), we’ve discussed ISIL. But in terms of working with them, I wouldn’t see it as a prerequisite. We’re not at the point of doing that and there’s no plans to coordinate with them militarily,” she said.
Psaki said that the U.S. has concerns about Iran on a range of other issues, including human rights and the state sponsorship of terrorism. Those concerns would remain unchanged even if a nuclear deal with Iran is reached, she said.
“We understand that they have concerns about the threat of ISIL, which they have expressed as well, but I would not look at it as a path to a different type of coordination,” she added.