U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday it was "not appropriate" for Iran to join talks on confronting Islamic State militants, as he appeared to play down how fast countries can commit to force or other steps in an emerging coalition.
Kerry met Turkish leaders to try to secure backing for U.S.-led action against Islamic State militants, but Ankara's reluctance to play a frontline role highlighted the difficulty of building a willing coalition for a complex military campaign in the heart of the Middle East.
As he tours the region to gather support for President Barack Obama's plan to strike both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi frontier to defeat Islamic State Sunni fighters, Kerry said Shi'ite Iran should have no role in talks on how to go about it.
Accusing Iran of being "a state sponsor of terror” and backing Syria’s brutal regime, Kerry said it would be inappropriate for Iranian officials to join an Iraq conference in Paris on Monday to discuss how to curb a jihadist movement that has seized a third of both Iraq and Syria. Tehran has described the coalition as "shrouded in serious ambiguities".
"Under the circumstances, at this moment in time, it would not be right for any number of reasons. It would not be appropriate given the many other issues that are on the table in Syria and elsewhere," he told a news conference in the Turkish capital Ankara.