Iran says Paris anti-extremist meeting ‘just for show’

The Islamic Republic has not been invited to Monday’s meeting in Paris

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Iran said Saturday it has no wish to attend an international conference in Paris next week on fighting the jihadist Islamic State group, dismissing the meeting as just for show.

“We have no interest in taking part in this counter-terrorism conference in Paris which has a selective guest list and is just for show,” deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told state television.

“What would interest Iran is a real fight against terrorism in the region and around the world, not this selective one,” he said.

Iran has not been invited to Monday’s meeting in Paris, amid U.S. resistance to involving Tehran in the regional coalition it has been building among regional states to fight the jihadists in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that Washington opposed Tehran’s participation because of its “engagement in Syria and elsewhere”.

The United States is building an international coalition against the Islamic State and has said it plans air strikes against the jihadists on Syrian territory without the consent of Damascus.

Syria and its ally Russia have warned that any unilateral US military action on Syrian territory would be a violation of its sovereignty.

The deputy foreign minister is the latest in a string of Iranian officials to criticize U.S. efforts to wage war against the jihadists.

On Thursday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afhkham cast doubt on the “sincerity” of the coalition Washington is seeking to build.

Last week, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the United States of not taking the threat from ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria seriously.

He also charged that US aid had previously helped the jihadists, alluding to support given by Washington to other rebel groups in Syria, some of which has found its way into ISIS hands.

Iran has been Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main regional ally since the revolt against his rule erupted in March 2011, and has also provided military advisers to the Shiite-led government in Iraq to help it battle the jihadists.

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