U.S. Secretary of State Kerry: Iran Won't Be Part of anti-Islamic State Campaign

Kerry says he is comfortable broad-based coalition against jihadi group will be established, refuses to detail role of each country in campaign.

Nick Tattersall
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Ankara September 12, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Ankara September 12, 2014. Credit: Reuters
Nick Tattersall

REUTERS - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he was comfortable that the United States would form a broad-based coalition to fight Islamic State militants but said it would not be appropriate for Iran to be involved in the efforts.

Kerry has been touring the Middle East to build support for President Barack Obama's plan, announced on Wednesday, to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier to defeat Islamic State Sunni fighters that control swathes of both countries.

"I'm comfortable that this will be a broad-based coalition with Arab nations, European nations, the United States, others," Kerry said, speaking in Ankara after meeting Turkish leaders.

He said France had publicly made clear its willingness to take action in Iraq and to use force but said it was too soon to say what role individual nations would play.

"It is entirely premature and frankly inappropriate at this point in time to start laying out one country by one country what individual nations are going to do," Kerry told reporters.

"At the appropriate time, every role will be laid out in detail," he said.

Turkey, a NATO member which shares long borders with both Syria and Iraq, is one of Washington's main allies in the region. But it has so far conspicuously avoided committing to the new military campaign.

On Friday evening, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said U.S. action in Iraq is necessary but would not be enough on its own to bring about political stability.

Asked in a live interview with Turkey's Kanal 24 television if current U.S. moves were sufficient to solve the crisis, Davutoglu said: "It is necessary, but it is not enough to establish order, I mean to achieve political stability".

Turkish leaders were not present at Kerry's press conference in Ankara.

On Thursday, Kerry won backing for a "coordinated military campaign" against Islamic State from 10 Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said retired Marine Corps General John Allen will be President Barack Obama's special envoy for the international coalition against the Islamic State, DPA reported.

Allen "will help continue to build, coordinate and sustain a global coalition across multiple lines of efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy" the jihadist group, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

Allen, who led the US and allied military effort in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2013, will report to Secretary of State John Kerry with the goal to "work closely with the Department of Defense to match specific campaign requirements and coalition needs with potential contributors," she says.

The appointment is meant to give "high-level diplomatic support" for a "global coalition that delivers tangible results," according to Harf.

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