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U.S. says open to further talks with Iran about Iraq

Reuters

June 17, 2014 | 2:17 pm

<em>Personnel from the Kurdish security forces detain a man suspected of being a militant belonging to the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the outskirts of Kirkuk on June 16. Photo by Ako Rasheed/Reuters</em>

Personnel from the Kurdish security forces detain a man suspected of being a militant belonging to the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the outskirts of Kirkuk on June 16. Photo by Ako Rasheed/Reuters

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that it is open to further talks with Iran about the instability in Iraq but that any such discussions are likely to take place at a lower level.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns met with Iranian officials briefly on Monday on the sidelines of wider talks in Vienna between Iran and six major powers about Tehran's nuclear program.

"We’re open to continuing our engagement with the Iranians, just as we are engaging with other regional players on the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, referring the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group.

"It is likely ... those discussions would happen at a lower level. We don’t expect further conversations with Iran on this issue in Vienna. Those talks will focus on the nuclear issue for the remainder of the week," the spokeswoman also told reporters.

ISIL militants 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.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Jim Loney and Eric Beech

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