Washington: The United States should not talk to Iran about jointly helping the Iraqi government fend off insurgents who have been overrunning large swaths of that country, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives said today.
"Absolutely not," Speaker John Boehner told reporters. "I can just imagine what our friends in the region, our allies, would be thinking by reaching out to Iran at a time when they continue to pay for terrorism and foster terrorism" in the region.
The US has not had relations with Iran since the 1979 storming of the US embassy in Tehran and the holding of American hostages there for over a year.
Boehner made his remarks hours before he and other congressional leaders were scheduled to get a White House briefing from President Barack Obama on the situation in Iraq.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been trying to stem a fast-moving offensive by the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been overrunning cities and is threatening the country`s largest oil refinery. Aides have said Obama is not expected to approve air strikes but is considering sending special forces and providing the Iraqis with intelligence assistance.
Boehner said he was hoping Obama would describe "a strategy that would guarantee some success for keeping Iraq free and propping up the democracy that we fought so hard to get there." He declined to say specifically what he would favor doing.