Iranian FM: soul-searching is needed to fight extremism

AP News
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Posted: Jun 14, 2016 7:57 AM

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The war on extremism is a global one, and finding solutions requires "a lot of soul-searching here in Europe," Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the most important first step is to figure out why some are attracted to "perverted ideologies of demigods who are financed by people looking for short-term gain at the expense of others."

Speaking during the opening of a two-day conference on conflict mediation in the Norwegian capital, Zarif stressed that it was not only a problem for the Middle East. He said some of those "who are beheading innocent human beings in Syria and Iraq (...) speak French and English with a perfect accent."

"We need to look at economic deprivation. We need to look at promoting extremism. We need to look at political solutions to the problems and we also need to look at the underlying problems in our region, Zarif said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also attended the event, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to speak Wednesday.

"The fight against any form of terrorism inside Europe is taken extremely seriously, as it is taken extremely seriously our duty to properly manage the challenge of migratory and refugee flows," Mogherini told a later news conference. She added: "We keep these issues completely separated."

Earlier this month, a U.S. State Department report said Iran was the world's leading terrorism sponsor through its financing, training and equipping of various armed groups, notably Lebanon's Hezbollah, as well as the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Tehran said the report was false.

The U.S. State Department report also said that Iran, among others, also provided weapons and other assistance to militants in Bahrain and remained active in supporting anti-Israel groups such as Hamas.