Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015

Obama warns Iran against stirring sectarian tide

Published on Jun 20, 2014 7:48 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President Barack Obama warned Iran on Thursday it could end up fighting sectarian fury "in a whole lot of places" unless it helped stabilise Iraq and pushed for an inclusive, multiethnic government.

Shiite Iran could play a "constructive" role in helping ease the crisis in Iraq sparked by the lightning advance of Sunni radicals from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Obama said.

But he cautioned that "old habits die hard," following several days of maneuvering between Tehran and Washington over possible cooperation amid signs both sides may have a common interest in preventing Iraq's plight from worsening.

Obama's intervention came as he announced the dispatch of 300 military advisors to help assess training needs for Baghdad's armed forces but insisted that he was not getting drawn back into a war Washington launched to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003 and which he declared over in 2011.

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!