Secretary of State John Kerry reassured Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Saturday that the United States is committed to supporting Iraq in pushing back extremist Sunni forces racing toward Baghdad.
The insurgents have already taken over several Iraqi cities and towns. President Obama on Friday said the U.S. would not send troops back to Iraq, but that he was consulting with his national security team to "prepare a range of other options."
Sign up for breaking news alerts from NBC News
Kerry told Zebari that "assistance from the United States would only be successful if Iraqi leaders were willing to put aside differences and implement a coordinated and effective approach to forge the national unity necessary to move the country forward" and confront the threat of ISIS, according to a statement from the State Department.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Iraq is a country heavily divided along Sunni, Kurd and Shia sectarian lines.
Kerry added that the United States was also reaching out to Iraq's regional neighbors to emphasize the threat that the region is under from ISIS.
Earlier Saturday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush to the Persian Gulf to “protect” American lives and interests.
— Kristen Welker and Becky Bratu