Obama Secretly Wrote Ayatollah About Fighting ISIS

Also prods Iran on a nuclear deal
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2014 1:32 PM CST
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks with Iran's state-run TV as he leaves a hospital in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014.   (AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)

(Newser) – President Obama secretly penned a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei last month, sources tell the Wall Street Journal, in an attempt to prod the Iranian leader toward a nuclear deal while simultaneously underscoring the two nations' joint interest in fighting ISIS—with any cooperation on the latter being what the Journal calls "largely contingent" on the former. Senior American officials wouldn't talk about the letter, and NPR notes that White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today that he's "not in a position to talk about private correspondence between the president and another world leader." Khamenei has reportedly never directly responded to any of Obama's previous three letters.

The US and Tehran have shared warmer relations since the election of Hasan Rouhani, but it's not clear how far Obama's going to get with Khamenei. Obama himself said yesterday that "there’s a sizable portion of the political elite that cut their teeth on anti-Americanism," and that "whether they can manage to say 'yes' ... is an open question." Khamenei as recently as last month blamed "America, Zionism, and ... the wicked government of Britain" for creating "al-Qaeda and (ISIS) in order to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic, but today, they have turned on them."

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