Australia's top diplomat discuses ISIS, asylum seekers with Iranian FM in Tehran

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop raised concerns about the ongoing violence in Iraq and Syria, Iranian asylum seekers seeking refuge in Australia.

April 18, 2015 16:20
2 minute read.
ISIS fighter

ISIS fighter. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop held talks with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Saturday during her visit to Tehran.

The two discussed the threat of Islamic State militants who control large territories in Iraq and Syria.

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"We had a detailed discussion about our respective roles in Iraq. And the support that we are providing to the Abadi government to build capacity within the Iraqi security forces," Bishop told a joint news conference with Zarif.

"I detailed Australia's involvement. It is proportionate, it is limited, by time and most certainly limited to military training and participation in coalition air strikes. We had very useful discussion about how we believe both our countries can contribute to the defeat of this terrorist organization."

Bishop outlined Australia's concerns about its citizens leaving to join the militants.

"There are Australian citizens. Indeed there are citizens from about 80 or 90 countries around the world who are being drawn to this conflict. And it is in our national security interest to prevent Australian citizens from leaving, to prevent Australian citizens from taking part in this conflict and to defeat Daesh and we will do that through our support for the Iraqi government," she said, referring to Islamic State by an Arabic acronym.

The two ministers decided to hold further talks on the issue of Iranian asylum seekers not deemed refugees by Australia.

"Given the level of exchange between the citizens of our two countries, given some of the challenges we have in terms of human trafficking, it has been decided to continue our discussions at an officials level through a consular dialogue," Bishop said.

Bishop's visit to Iran comes after Tehran and Western nations agreed on a framework nuclear agreement ahead of a final deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.

This week, the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said the US military option to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon remains intact.

Asked about the 'military option', Zarif said it was "non existent".

"The fact that we are negotiating indicates that everybody understands that the only way to deal with Iran is through recognition of Iran's rights and mutual respect and I think that would provide a far better answer than getting engaged in disastrous adventuresome," Zarif said.

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