French President Francois Hollande said Islamic State militants pose a global threat that requires a global response.
Hollande said Monday there is “no time to lose” as he and Iraqi President Fouad Massoum opened a conference in Paris focusing on peace and security in Iraq.
The meeting includes officials from about 30 countries, the United Nations, European Union and the Arab League. It is the latest step in an effort to build a coalition to battle the Islamic State group, which has taken over large areas in northern and western Iraq as well as eastern Syria.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is taking part in the conference after spending days meeting with leaders in the Middle East.
He said Sunday that a growing number of countries are prepared to join the fight, including several Arab Nations offering to give military assistance and carry out airstrikes, if needed.
But Massoum told the Associated Press that it is not necessary for Arab powers to conduct airstrikes, saying what is needed is for them to “participate in the decisions” of the conference.
He highlighted the importance of taking action against the Islamic State group, saying it is “in the interest of everyone.”
“If this group installs itself in Iraq, this will create of a lot of problems in Iraq, the region and the world. We must try to be helped by other countries so there is international mobilization against this group that wants to install itself in Iraq and from there unleash itself on the world,” said Massoum.
Iran is not one of the 26 countries participating in the conference. Massoum said he thinks Iran should have been invited, given the long shared border with Iraq and the humanitarian aid Iran has been providing during the crisis.
French officials said Monday their aircraft were due to begin reconnaissance flights over Iraq.