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France

French foreign minister urges unity government in Iraq

media French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that the formation of a broad unity government is critical to tackling jihadist expansion in northern Iraq.

"In this time, Iraq particularly needs a broad-based unity government because all Iraqis need to feel represented to wage the fight against terrorism together," Fabius said after a meeting with Iraq’s deputy prime minister and acting foreign minister, Hussein al-Shahristani.

Fabius will then head north to Arbil to oversee the delivery of French aid to famished civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar after an attack by members of the Islamic State (IS).

President Francois Hollande also spoke with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani on Saturday assuring him that France "will stand by the civilian population, victims of continued exactions of the Islamic State."

However, France and the US have acknowledged that in no way is foreign presence a panacea to the country’s sectarian strife and the thousands of minorities being persecuted in northern Iraq.

US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that there was no timetable set for military involvement in Iraq, adding that “ultimately, only Iraqis can ensure the security and stability of Iraq.”

He added that the two-pronged approach – air strikes and air drops to the displaced civilians – would keep a lid on the conflict, but not end the threat from extremists.

Islamic State militants have been accused of threatening genocide against the minority Yazidi religious sect and have signalled intentions to overrun the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

Obama added that with the absence of an Iraqi government it is very difficult to have a unified effort against IS.

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