US: Iran is welcome to participate in UN meeting on Iraq

Friday session chaired by Secretary Kerry is open to Iranian participation, US says; Obama not opposed to meeting with Rouhani.

Hassan Rouhani (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hassan Rouhani
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK --  Iran is welcome to sit in on a discussion at the United Nations on Friday on counter-terrorism efforts in Iraq, to be chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, a senior Obama administration official said on Thursday night.
The official said that Islamic State was a topic of conversation on the sidelines of talks between the US and Iranian delegations in New York, which met for two days privately to negotiate over Iran's nuclear program.
"Any member can attend, and so the meeting was mentioned in our discussions today on the margins," the official said. "The world is focused on the mission that the President of the United States has set out, and that is to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL [Islamic State]. And I think we will all see that in a very powerful way tomorrow at the ministerial, and I believe that Iran thinks that ISIL should not be doing what it is doing either."
The talks will widen over the weekend to include the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany.
Asked whether they expect to participate, the official said the decision is for Iran to make.
So, too, is it the decision of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to meet with US President Barack Obama, while the two men are in New York. The official said Obama remains open to a meeting.
"The president of the United States is well known for being open to such a meeting, but the choice is really Iran’s," the official said.