Iran says open to regional cooperation 'against extremism'

AFP , Saturday 7 Mar 2015

Rouhani Jordan FM AP
In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Hassan Rouhani, right, shakes hands with Jordanian Foreign Minster Nasser Judeh, at the start of their meeting in the presidency office, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, March 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office)

Iran is ready to cooperate with other regional powers in the battle against extremism and terrorism, its foreign minister said Saturday during a meeting with his visiting Jordanian counterpart.

There is a "need to pursue dialogue and cooperation with the countries of the region to fight extremism and terrorism," Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying in remarks that focused on the Islamic State (IS) group.

For his part, Jordan's Nasser Judeh called for dialogue between Iran and the 22-member Arab League.

"Instability, violence and extremism have taken root in the region in recent years, and we consider unity and cohesion among Islamic countries and dialogue with our Iranian brothers on regional matters to be necessary," he said.

President Hassan Rouhani also insisted on the need for regional cooperation during talks with Judeh, saying "terrorism has become today a problem and a danger for everyone".

"The countries of the region must help each other out. Security and stability are only possible if all the countries of the region play a positive role," Rouhani told his guest.

Not only is Iran non-Arab, but it is predominantly Shiite Muslim, while the Arab countries are, with the exception of Bahrain, overwhelmingly Sunni.

IS is a radical Sunni group, which views Shiites as heretics.

In his remarks, Zarif pointed to the "savage terrorist acts" by IS in its burning alive earlier this year of a captured Jordanian fighter pilot who had been participating in attacks on IS targets by a US-led coalition.

Such acts, he said, "are unacceptable and aimed at tarnishing the image of Islam and... creating divisions among us".

But Arab countries are wary of Iran, which backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war against mostly Sunni rebels, and is also suspected of supporting Shiite rebels in the increasingly lawless Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen.

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