EU to send weapons and aid to Kurds
Published 16/08/2014 | 02:30
IN AN effort to present a united front, the European Union has finally framed a response to the rapid advance of Islamic militants in Iraq .
Several EU nations have pledged more humanitarian aid and opened the way to directly arming Kurdish fighters battling Sunni insurgents.
The emergency meeting of the bloc's 28 foreign ministers in Brussels marked a shift towards greater involvement in Iraq, following weeks during which Europeans mainly considered the situation an American problem because of the 2003 US-led Iraq invasion.
EU ministers pledged to step up their efforts to help refugees, with several nations announcing they will fly dozens of tons of aid to northern Iraq.
"First of all we need to make sure that we alleviate humanitarian suffering," Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans said. "Secondly, I believe we need to make sure that IS is not in a position to overrun the Kurds or to take a stronger hold on Iraq."
France has pledged to ship weapons to the Kurds, Britain is delivering ammunition and military supplies obtained from eastern European nations and is considering sending more weaponry. Germany, the Netherlands and others said they would also consider requests to arm the Kurds.
"These are crises ... that are of concern to our European neighbourhood, to our security and stability," said Italian foreign minister Federica Mogherini.
The IS militants' advances also bring danger closer to European shores. Officials say about 1,700 radical Muslims from France, Britain and Germany alone are believed to have joined the fighting. A radical French Islamist who had fought in Syria is suspected of killing four people at Brussels' Jewish Museum in May.