Thursday 12 December 2019

John Kerry in Cairo for talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "inappropriate" to say what role individual countries in the coalition against Islamic State (IS) militants would play, but categorically ruled out any help from Iran.

Even as it discouraged Iran from joining diplomatic talks on how to defeat the IS militant group, the United States could not outline what other nations have volunteered to contribute to a worldwide effort against the insurgency that has overtaken a third of Iraq and Syria and threatens to upend the Middle East.

Mr Kerry is meeting Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi and Egypt's President Sisi in Cairo as part of his campaign to form a broad coalition to tackle  IS militants. Islamic State (IS) militants.

He is trying to press its leaders on hardening its borders against extremist traffic and funding, said it's not appropriate for Iran to be at the discussions, given its support for the very government in Syria whose brutality helped fuel the group.

But after more than a week of meetings with top NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and Middle East officials, Kerry refused to say precisely how a global campaign that is being pieced together by the US would succeed in destroying the Sunni extremist movement that some believe is even more dangerous than al-Qaida.

France has said it wants Iran to participate.

Mr Kerry said "No one has called me and asked me" whether France should invite Iran to the diplomatic talks set for Monday in Paris on helping Iraq fight off the Islamic State group."

The militancy is among Sunni rebels groups that have battled for three years Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is surviving in part with Iran's help.

"Under the circumstances, at this moment in time, it would not be right for number of reasons," Kerry said.

"It would not be appropriate, given the many other issues that are on the table with respect to their engagement in Syria and elsewhere."

Kerry also refused to clarify how nations are willing to participate in US President Barack Obama's strategy to obliterate the insurgents' vision of creating an extremist caliphate that could encroach on much of the Middle East.

Reuters

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