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

By Elahe Izadi

National Journal

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to the press in Chicago on June 4. The lawmaker on Thursday argued against working with Iran to combat extremists in Iraq. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks to the press in Chicago on June 4. The lawmaker on Thursday argued against working with Iran to combat extremists in Iraq. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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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