WASHINGTON - The US State Department said on Monday it might talk with Iran about promoting regional stability, noting it had been open to including Iran in past efforts to achieve a Syrian peace deal if Tehran had altered its policy.
But it drew a distinction between talking to Iran about issues beyond its nuclear program and actually working with Tehran on such matters, something Washington has ruled out.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf made the comments when asked about a call by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in a New York Times opinion piece for regional dialogue to address the crises in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Harf said Washington had been open to including Tehran in a second round of Syria peace talks in 2014 had Iran embraced the 2012 "Geneva Communique," which called for a political transition, but left ambiguous the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the end, Iran did not sign on to the Geneva Communique and did not participate in the January 2014 "Geneva II" meeting.
"We've always said we won't be coordinating or working with the Iranians, and there's a difference between discussing and working with," she said.