WASHINGTON (AP) – In a rare outreach to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Presi-dent Barack Obama has written a letter about the fight against Islamic State militants, a common enemy in Syria and Iraq, according to diplomatic sources.
The US and Iran are each engaged in military efforts to degrade the Islamic State group, essentially putting the longtime foes on the same side in the campaign against the extremists.
However, the Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that it is not coordinating and will not coordinate its military actions with Iran, though officials from both countries have discussed the matter more broadly.
Obama’s letter to Iran’s powerful religious leader comes against the backdrop of the looming November 24 deadline in nuclear negotiations between the US and Iran, as well as five other world powers. While Obama has previously sent letters to Khamenei, any communication between the two men has been extremely rare.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported that Obama had sent the letter, said it described a shared interest between the US and Iran in figh-ting the IS and stressed that any cooperation on that would be largely contingent on Iran agreeing to the nuclear deal.
However, while not confirming or denying the existence of the letter, administration officials said there were still no plans to cooperate or coor-dinate with Iran against the militants.
“The United States will not cooperate militarily with Iran in that effort,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “We won’t share intelligence with them.”
Diplomatic sources separately confirmed the existence of the letter to The Associated Press. They did so only on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss Obama’s outreach.