JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia: Gulf Arab foreign ministers agreed with their Canadian counterpart Monday to strengthen “cooperation” in the fight against the Islamic State group and other jihadist organizations, they said in a statement.
Ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council agreed with Canadian Foreign Minister Stephane Dion on the need to “dry up” sources of finance for jihadists.
“The campaign against Daesh (an Arabic acronym for IS) and other terrorist organizations is not religious or linked to a religion or sect but rather a war on terror,” they added in a statement.
They agreed to “strengthen joint cooperation… to eradicate terrorism”, including by “doubling efforts to stop the flow of foreign terrorist fighters” to Syria and Iraq, where the Sunni jihadist group has seized territory.
The joint Arabic-language statement was released following a “strategic dialogue” between Dion and GCC ministers in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The statement, which came after deadly IS attacks on Monday in Syria and Yemen, condemned the “barbarian crimes committed by Daesh and other terrorist groups.”
It also comes after Dion on Saturday announced the start of a Canadian security pact with Tunisia, initially for three years, to support the North African country in its fight against “terrorism.”
The ministers also voiced support for the Iraqi government’s “efforts to preserve security and stability”, urging the creation of a “comprehensive” government there to “strengthen the capabilities of Iraqi security forces in their war on Daesh.”
Iraq has been hit by a months-long political crisis that has paralyzed the legislature, as the country’s forces battle to regain more ground from IS while also facing a major financial crisis.
The ministers also reaffirmed their “rejection of Iran’s support for terrorism and its actions that undermine stability in the region, including acts by Hezbollah,” the Lebanese militia whose supporters are fighting alongside the Tehran-backed regime in Syria and which is listed as a “terrorist group” by GCC countries.
The ministers vowed to work together “to confront (Iran’s) interferences in the region.”
In addition to Iran’s archrival Saudi Arabia, the GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Riyadh severed diplomatic relations with Tehran in January after Iranian demonstrators burned Saudi Arabia’s embassy and a consulate following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
Several other GCC members followed suit in cutting ties.