British PM, Iran president hold first talks since 1979

24th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron held talks with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday at the United Nations, the first meeting between the countries' leaders since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The meeting took place at the British mission office at the United Nations as the General Assembly got underway. Rouhani posted a photograph of himself smiling as he shook hands with Cameron.

The British government says a key priority at the largest diplomatic gathering in the world is building broad-based support for the new government in Iraq and international action to confront jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Cameron is due to address the UN General Assembly later Wednesday.

Western powers are seeking to build support for the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group, which holds a large tract of territory in Iraq and Syria and which has beheaded two US journalists and a British aid worker.

The United States and Arab allies launched the first air and sea strikes against IS militants in Syria on Tuesday, expanding the action the US has been leading against the jihadists in Iraq since the start of August.

Iran, which usually rails against any US presence in the Middle East, has been unusually accepting of the US action in Iraq, where it is also tackling IS militants.

Rouhani has criticized the US for not sending in ground troops, and on Monday said the people in the region were "defending themselves... against the terrorists" and that Iran would help.

Britain and France have taken up the task of trying to win some form of other cooperation from Iran against IS.

Cameron has promised to ask for parliamentary approval for any British involvement in the US-led military action against IS, but he appears wary of a repeat of last year's humiliating defeat in the House of Commons over military action in Syria.

© 2014 AFP

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