As fighting raged at Iraq's largest oil refinery between extremist insurgents and Iraqi security forces, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed the United States is contemplating sharing information with Iran over the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) armed rebellion, but is not seeking to work "hand-in-hand" with Tehran to address the crisis.
The U.S. and Iran are seen as the two main backers of Iraq's embattled Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and there has been much speculation that the fight against Sunni insurgents, who have seized vast swathes of Iraq's north, could provide a rare opportunity for cooperation between the long-hostile powers.
"We are interested in communicating with Iran. That the Iranians know what we're thinking, that we know what they're thinking and there is a sharing of information so people aren't making mistakes," Kerry said in an interview on NBC News that aired on Thursday.
Asked if the United States was considering working hand-in-hand with Iran, Kerry said: "No. We're not sitting around contemplating how we're going to do that or if we're going to do that. That's not on the table," Kerry added.
Kerry’s comments came a day after Iraq's foreign minister formally asked the U.S. to launch air attacks to put down a week-long rebellion by ISIL fighters.