Pelosi Doesn’t Want to Work With Iran to Respond to Iraq Crisis

“I think you have to be open where you can get support, but I don’t have the confidence level,” the minority leader said Thursday.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference June 12, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
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Elahe Izadi
June 19, 2014, 7:41 a.m.

Con­gres­sion­al lead­ers are in­creas­ingly giv­ing a re­sound­ing “no” to po­ten­tial co­ordin­a­tion with Ir­an in re­spond­ing to the grow­ing crisis in Ir­aq, with House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi say­ing on Thursday that she would be op­posed to such a move.

“I’m not one who’s in­ter­ested in work­ing with Ir­an on this. I think you have to be open where you can get sup­port, but I don’t have the con­fid­ence level,” Pelosi told re­port­ers at her weekly press con­fer­ence in the Cap­it­ol. “Right now, we’re try­ing to stop Ir­an from hav­ing a nuc­le­ar weapon — that can’t hap­pen.”

Just the day be­fore, House Speak­er John Boehner told re­port­ers that the United States should “ab­so­lutely not” work with the gov­ern­ment in Tehran to quell the sec­tari­an tur­moil in the neigh­bor­ing Middle East na­tion.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had signaled an open­ness to work with Ir­an, a ma­jor­ity Shiite coun­try, earli­er in the week, with Sec­ret­ary of State John Kerry telling Ya­hooNews,  “We’re open to dis­cus­sions if there is something con­struct­ive that can be con­trib­uted by Ir­an, if Ir­an is pre­pared to do something that is go­ing to re­spect the in­teg­rity and sov­er­eignty of Ir­aq and abil­ity of the gov­ern­ment to re­form.” When pressed on wheth­er that could in­clude mil­it­ary op­er­a­tions, Kerry re­spon­ded, “At this mo­ment, I think we need to go step-by-step and see what in fact might be a real­ity. But I wouldn’t rule out any­thing that would be con­struct­ive to provid­ing real sta­bil­ity.”

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials at­temp­ted to walk that state­ment back, par­tic­u­larly in light of on­go­ing ne­go­ti­ations with Ir­an over its nuc­le­ar pro­gram, by fore­clos­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of mil­it­ary co­ordin­a­tion and em­phas­iz­ing that such con­tact between the two na­tions would be in­form­al and lim­ited.

Pelosi said that Ir­an and Ir­aq, which were in­volved in a bloody war in the 1980s, had served as a check on each oth­er. Ir­an is “free and clear be­cause we took out their main check,” Pelosi said. “So I’m not one who would be in a hurry to have a con­ver­sa­tion with Ir­an.”

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