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US and Iran have different long term goals for Iraq -

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EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Let's go live now to Washington and the ABC bureau chief Lisa Millar is in the American capital for us.

Lisa, after all the tension and the threats between the US and Iran over recent years, it does seem remarkable that these two countries might actually be in cooperation in Iraq. What's been the reaction among Americans?

LISA MILLAR, REPORTER: Emma, there's a certain irony, isn't there, that these discussions took place on the sidelines of rather difficult negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.

But, yes, the two officials - the officials from both sides did talk. We heard about it initially from John Kerry who seemed to go pretty far when he raised - didn't rule out even military coordination between Iran and the US. Well, that caused a massive reaction here in the US and even the State Department spokesperson walked that back a bit and said military cooperation wasn't on the agenda.

The Defence Department put out a statement saying there had been no talks with Iran on military cooperation and John Kerry did stress that if Iran was involved in any way here it would have to respect the integrity and sovereignty of Iraq.

The problem for the US here is that while it may have a short-term goal that it shares with Iran, that it wants to stabilise the al-Maliki Government, their long-term goals are very different because the US wants a more democratic, less sectarian Government, whereas Iran, as Matt Brown said in his piece, wants to see the Shi'ite population supported and also Iran to keep its dominant place in the region.

So quite a reaction here in the US, Emma, and John McCain himself saying it would make it dramatically worse if Iran was involved.

EMMA ALBERICI: Now the President has said he'll make a decision on what to do in Iraq within days. What exactly is he considering?

LISA MILLAR: Air strikes are still at the top of the agenda but of course that comes with risks because the last troops were pulled out at the end of 2011 which means that US military intelligence in the area is not as good as it used to be. You've got less than 10,000 of these insurgents movement unknown, difficult and the risks of civilian deaths that come with air strikes.

But they are moving equipment into the area. As Matt said, 275 troops, they've got US aircraft carriers, the George H.W. Bush has 65 aircraft on board so if he makes the decision on air strikes it could come pretty quickly.

He met with his national security team last night, all 18 of them, but I've had a look at his diary today and he's heading to Pittsburgh to do a speech about technology and education so we may not be hearing from him today.

EMMA ALBERICI: As you mentioned, Lisa, the President and certainly others in the West have very little faith in Nouri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, in the longer term. In the short-term, do they believe, do you think, that Maliki actually has the capacity to wrest control of these cities and towns back from ISIS?

LISA MILLAR: The short answer would have to be no right at the moment. They have very little faith. One of the other option that Barack Obama has been looking at besides the air strikes is to try and continue this political pressure on Nouri Al-Maliki.

But, Emma, just in the last hour or so Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, has been on television here in the US and he's said Nouri Al-Maliki has to go so this is the most senior Republican as far as the intelligence committee goes and he's calling for the removal of the Prime Minister.

There's certainly great disappointment that the Iraqi troops that the US has spent so much time and money training have walked away from their posts and have not been able to cope with this onslaught. There are grave doubts about whether the Government will be able to back them up.

EMMA ALBERICI: Lisa Millar, our bureau chief in Washington, thank you very much.