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Published: Tuesday June 17, 2014 MYT 7:05:02 AM
Updated: Tuesday June 17, 2014 MYT 7:05:02 AM

U.S. official confirms talks with Iran about Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Iran discussed Iraq briefly on Monday, a senior U.S. official confirmed, saying such talks would not include military coordination and would not make "strategic determinations" over the heads of Iraqis.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group have routed Baghdad's army and seized the north of the country in the past week, threatening to dismember Iraq and unleash all-out sectarian warfare.

"We are open to engaging the Iranians, just as we are engaging other regional players on the threat post by ISIL in Iraq. The issue did come up briefly with Iran on the margins of the P5+1 in Vienna today," said a senior U.S. State Department official, referring to talks between Iran and six major powers about Iran's nuclear program.

"These engagements will not include military coordination or strategic determinations about Iraq’s future over the heads of the Iraqi people," the U.S. official added. "We will discuss how ISIL threatens many countries in the region, including Iran, and the need to support inclusivity in Iraq and refrain from pressing a sectarian agenda."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S.-Iranian exchange about Iraq occurred outside of a three-way meeting between U.S., Iranian and European Union officials in Vienna about the Iranian nuclear program.

(Reporting by Lou Charbonneau and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Peter Cooney and Jim Loney)

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