President Barack Obama wrote to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month, describing a “shared interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people briefed on the correspondence.
The newspaper said the letter “appeared aimed both at buttressing the campaign against Islamic State and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he couldn’t discuss what he called “private correspondence between the president and any world leader.”
The newspaper said the letter “marked at least the fourth time Mr. Obama has written Iran’s most powerful political and religious leader since taking office in 2009 and pledging to engage with Tehran’s Islamist government.”
Earnest said the administration’s Iran policy “remains unchanged” and that the U.S. is focused on talks to resolve global worry over Iran's nuclear program.
He said officials have also discussed “on the sidelines of those talks, on at least a couple of occasions,” efforts by the U.S. and other countries to battle Islamic State militants in both Iraq and Syria.
He said the U.S. would not cooperate militarily with Iran or share intelligence, but added Iran’s “interests in the outcome is something that's been widely commented upon.”