Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that the government should talk with Iran about the deteriorating situation in Iraq.
"We should have discussions with Iran to make sure they don't use this as an opportunity to seize control of parts of Iraq," the hawkish senator said. "They're in this. They're already on the ground. We need to put a red line with Iran."
Asked how the U.S. should do that, Graham replied, "You just sit down and talk with them."
Graham has long been a hardliner on Iran, and his comments came as a surprise to interviewers Gloria Borger and Dana Bash. The pair asked Graham to repeat himself. "I'm sorry, it's sort of hard for me to believe that I'm hearing a Republican say, 'Sit down and talk with Iran,'" Bash said.
"Do you realize what's happening?" Graham replied. "If Baghdad falls and the central government collapses in Iraq, the Iranians are the biggest winner. We're the biggest loser."
President Barack Obama said Friday that he was reviewing options, but would not send troops to Iraq. Graham said he believes the U.S. should use air power to stop the advance on Baghdad and to hit Syria. He added that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki should be replaced with someone more trusted by the Iraqi people.
"We should be the ones who save Baghdad so the central government can survive," Graham said. "But to ignore Iran and not tell them, 'Don't take advantage of this situation' would be a mistake."
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