France hosting international summit on Islamic State

Iraqi authorities to meet in French capital with some 30 other countries and organizations to coordinate response to Islamic State.

By REUTERS
September 15, 2014 07:19
2 minute read.
iraq france

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (R) and French President Francois Hollande arrive for a press meeting in Baghdad September 12, 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Opponent of the militant group Islamic State were gathered in France for an international conference on Monday on the topic of battling the extremist organization that has taken parts if Iraq and Syria in its quest to establish an Islamic state across the Middle East.

The conference brings Iraqi authorities together with about 30 countries and organizations to coordinate their response to Islamic State ahead of a UN Security Council ministerial meeting on September 19 and a heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly later this month.

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"It will also be the first time to really gauge what Russia thinks and is ready to do," a French diplomat said.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will meet British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond during the conference in Paris following the top American diplomat's tour of the Middle East, where he was working to garner regional support for President Barack Obama's plan to defeat the radical Islamist group.

Britain has often been the first country to join US military action overseas and is under pressure to get much tougher with IS after video footage of the killing of Briton David Haines by the terrorists was released on Saturday.

In footage consistent with the filmed executions of two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, in the past month, they also threatened to kill another British hostage.

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the government's emergency response committee in London, Prime Minister David Cameron called the killing of Haines, a 44-year-old Scottish aid worker, callous and brutal and hailed him as a "British hero."

France has offered to take part in air strikes in Iraq and is expected to give more details this week on what it is willing to do, although its financial resources and forces are already stretched with more than 5,000 soldiers in West Africa.

Michael McCaul, a Republican who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, told the same CBS program that Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan told him "he is ready to put his troops into Syria to fight ISIS".

Washington could also try to persuade Egypt to put troops in Syria," McCaul said.

Washington said countries in the Middle East had offered to join air strikes against Islamic State militants and Australia said it would send troops, but Britain held back even after the group beheaded a British hostage and threatened to kill another.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has been touring the Middle East to try to secure backing for US efforts to build a coalition to fight the Islamic State militants who have grabbed territory in Syria and Iraq.

The United States resumed air strikes in Iraq in August for the first time since the 2011 withdrawal of the last US troops, fearful the militants would break the country up and use it as a base for attacks on the West.

The addition of Arab fighter jets would greatly strengthen the credibility of what is a risky and complicated campaign.


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