Israel hails U.S. efforts to fight ISIS but weary of Iran

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi Hanegbi praised the initiative but warned it may signal closer ties between the United States and Iran

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Israel on Wednesday hailed U.S. efforts to form an alliance to fight militants in Syria and Iraq but raised concerns of a rapprochement between Washington and Israel's arch-foe Iran.

"I praise the American initiative to take action and form a coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and hope those efforts will succeed," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in comments broadcast on public radio early Wednesday, shortly after he left for a visit to Lithuania and the United States.

His remarks came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit at the start of a Middle East tour aimed at building a regional coalition to combat the extremist Sunni militants who have taken over swathes of territory either side of the Syria-Iraq border.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, who is close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also praised the initiative but warned it may signal closer ties between the United States and Iran, which has also pledged to join the struggle.

"There could be some kind of flexibility vis-a-vis Iran by the Americans in the fight against ISIS," he said.

Israel bitterly opposed an interim deal that Washington and other powers reached with Tehran last November, paving the way for the talks on a comprehensive agreement on Iran's future nuclear activities.

Iran and the six powers -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany -- had been working to a July target date for a comprehensive agreement to allay international concerns about its ambitions.

But they agreed to extend the talks until November 24 to allow more time to reach a historic deal.

The new talks are to open in New York ahead of the opening of the U.N. General Assembly on September 16.

Israel has refused to rule out military action against Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent any possibility of it developing the technology for an atomic bomb.

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