World Bulletin/News Desk
French President Francois Hollande called on Wednesday for an international conference to discuss ways of tackling ISIL insurgents who have seized control of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Hollande did not say when such a meeting could be held or who would be invited but said a global strategy was needed to combat the insurgents, according to remarks published in Le Monde newspaper.
"We can no longer keep to the traditional debate of intervention or non-intervention," Hollande told Le Monde.
"We have to come up with a global strategy to fight this group, which is structured, has significant financing, very sophisticated weapons and threatens countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon," he said.
France, which has close ties with Iraq's Kurdish regional government, started delivering weapons to Kurdish fighters on Friday to help stop an advance by ISIL into the Kurdish region.
"I believe the international situation is the worst we've seen since 2001," Hollande said. "We are not dealing with a terrorist group like al Qaeda, but a quasi-terrorist state, ISIL."
Speaking on French radio on Tuesday, a Kurdish general said French weapons' deliveries so far had not been sophisticated enough and called on Paris to provide anti-tank missiles.
Hollande said that France's weapons' deliveries had been carried out in agreement with the central government in Baghdad to ensure Iraq remained united.
Hollande also called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume truce talks after a Gaza ceasefire collapsed and said the demilitarisation of the enclave and a lifting of a blockade should be part of a deal.
Israeli air strikes killed 11 Palestinians in Gaza, including the wife and infant son of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, in what the group said was an attempt to assassinate him after the failure of Egyptian-brokered negotiations.
"We are at a critical point. France supports the Egyptian mediation," Hollande told Le Monde in an interview. "Gaza can no longer remain like it is. The objective must be a demilitarisation and a lifting of the blockade."
"Demilitarisation can only be done under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. France with Europe can be useful in lifting the blockade at the Rafah crossing. Gaza must neither be an open prison or a military base," Hollande said.
Hollande said if negotiations failed then the international community would have to take the lead to find a solution.
"We must do everything to ensure negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority resume to find a solution to the conflict. We know the parameters, the only solution is a two states living side by side," he said.
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The 63-year-old leader, in power for nearly 12 years, also said she hoped to appoint equal numbers of male and female ministers from her conservative party if she wins a fourth term, though she could not speak for possible coalition partners.