Channel NewsAsia

US open to more Iran talks, but far from full ties

Washington remains open to more talks with Iran over the crisis in Iraq, but is far from following in Britain's footsteps to renew diplomatic ties, a US official said Tuesday.

WASHINGTON: Washington remains open to more talks with Iran over the crisis in Iraq, but is far from following in Britain's footsteps to renew diplomatic ties, a US official said Tuesday.

Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns had "met briefly" with Iranian officials on Monday in Vienna on the sidelines of nuclear talks with global powers, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed.

"They discussed the need to support inclusivity in Iraq and the need to refrain from pressing a sectarian agenda," she told reporters, without going into details of how long the talks lasted, and whether anything specific was agreed.

Washington snapped diplomatic ties with Tehran during the hostage crisis three decades ago, but has moved to improve relations in recent months with the hopes of hammering out a deal to rein in the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions.

"We're open to continuing our engagement with the Iranians, just as we are engaging with other regional players on the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq," she said, referring to the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. No further such talks were planned for Vienna, she added.

But Psaki cautioned that the talks were "not the launch of a formal process" and stressed that any future discussions would likely happen at a lower level.

She also stressed that the United States was "far from the point" of Britain which on Tuesday said that it plans to reopen its embassy in Iran.

"We're just taking about brief engagements on this issue. Our focus is on the nuclear negotiations, and I expect that will be the case for the time being," Psaki said.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia