France seeks international meeting to tackle Islamic State

French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius speaks during a news conference with Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani in Baghdad, August 10, 2014.

(Reuters) – France said on Wednesday it wanted to bring together Arab states, Iran and the main world powers to coordinate a comprehensive response against Islamic State insurgents who control large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Speaking in an interview with Le Monde  French President Francois Hollande did not say when such a meeting could be held or who would be invited but said a global strategy was needed to combat the insurgents.

“We can no longer keep to the traditional debate of intervention or non-intervention,” Hollande told Le Monde.

“We have to come up with a global strategy to fight this group, which is structured, has significant financing, very sophisticated weapons and threatens countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” he said.

The Islamic State has captured swathes of northern Iraq since June, executing non-Sunni Muslim captives and minorities, displacing tens of thousands of people and drawing the first U.S. air strikes in the region since Washington withdrew troops in 2011.

On Tuesday night the group released a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley that it said was in revenge for the strikes.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told lawmakers Paris wanted the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – Britain, United States, China, Russia and France – and regional countries, including Arab states and Iran, to coordinate action against the militants.

“We have to see with different partners how we can face them (Islamic State) with intelligence and military measures. That means cutting their resources, it means taking action to separate the support this group has from the population,” Fabius said.

A diplomatic source said the conference, if it took place, could be held in Paris in September.

“We consider this terrorist group is of a different level of dangerousness than others. It is a business of destruction. Today it is Iraq, but the caliphate is the entire region, and beyond it is obviously Europe,” Fabius said and condemned Foley’s killing.

France, which has close ties with Iraq’s Kurdish regional government, started delivering weapons to Kurdish fighters on Friday to help stop an advance by Islamic State into the Kurdish region.

“I believe the international situation is the worst we’ve seen since 2001,” Hollande said. “We are not dealing with a terrorist group like al Qaeda, but a quasi-terrorist state, Islamic State.”

Speaking on French radio on Tuesday, a Kurdish general said French weapons’ deliveries so far had not been sophisticated enough and called on Paris to provide anti-tank missiles.

Hollande said that France’s weapons’ deliveries had been carried out in agreement with the central government in Baghdad to ensure Iraq remained united.

By Reuters


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