Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration continues to rely on high-level talks to halt hostilities in Iraq because enough American troops have already fought and died there.

“The test is in really these next few days and weeks, and we are going to do everything in our power to follow through and try to get the job done through diplomacy, if we can, in order to honor their sacrifice,” he said Thursday in an exclusive interview.

In the first of a two-part interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie, Kerry also clarified his recent remarks about plans to deal with Iran over its neighbor.

“We are interested in communicating with Iran to make clear that the Iranians know what we're thinking, and we know what they're thinking. And that there's a sharing of information so people aren't making mistakes,” he said.

Kerry got defensive over the idea he suggested in an interview earlier this week that the administration would consider working directly with Iran.

"It would be a head-scratcher, and no, we're not sitting around contemplating how we're going to do that, or if we're going to do that," he said. "That's not on the table."

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