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Paris to host international talks in June on tackling IS group

AFP

France will host a high-level meeting of the international community on combating the threat posed by the Islamic State (IS) group next month in Paris, the country’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said on Wednesday.

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"Along with [US Secretary of State] John Kerry and [Iraqi Prime Minister Haider] al-Abadi, I will be welcoming in Paris on June 2 the members of the international coalition to talk about Iraq," Fabius said in a speech in the French capital.

The "central" theme of the meeting will be the crisis in Iraq although it was "not impossible" that Syria would also be discussed, the minister added.

"We have to take stock of how the coalition wants to proceed. And the Iraqi prime minister will tell us what the situation is [on the ground]”, added Fabius.

Some 24 ministers – including German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier – will also travel to Paris, as well as representatives from top international organisations, diplomatic sources said.

The announcement of the meeting came as IS militants seized almost full control of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the country’s army and paramilitary forces massed around Ramadi, aiming to recapture the strategic city from the IS group before it builds up its defences.

The international community is also stepping up its diplomatic efforts in the region, with UN envoy Staffan de Mistura holding talks earlier this month with a wide range of parties involved in the Syrian conflict, including the Syrian government's envoy to Geneva.

However, the talks were dealt a set-back with the key opposition Syrian National Coalition declining to take part, dismissing the negotiations as "unimportant."

In September, a summit in Paris saw officials from around the globe fine-tune a strategy to combat the Islamic State, which has seized large parts of both Iraq and Syria.

The nations discussed what roles each would play in a US-led coalition, which has struggled to stop the jihadists' advance despite pounding IS targets with more than 3,000 air strikes.

More than 60 countries eventually joined the coalition, a dozen of which are taking part in the air strikes.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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