BAGHDAD, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim and his French counterpart Jean Yves Le Drian on Thursday discussed cooperation to confront the threat of Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria amid the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim (R) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attend a joint press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, on Oct. 7, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)
In a joint press conference, al-Hakim said the two sides "discussed intensively the Turkish intervention in the Syrian territories, and France is interested in finding a solution to the crisis of terrorist fighters (IS militants) currently in Syria."
They agreed to cooperate on finding appropriate mechanisms to prosecute IS foreign fighters, and finding solutions for the families of IS militants, especially the foreign fighters, al-Hakim said.
"The number of the (IS) foreign fighters in Syria is very high, and they are from up to 72 countries. These countries should take appropriate measures toward their citizens," al-Hakim said.
He said that Iraq has officially announced that it is ready to bring back the Iraqi IS militants and their families, and will provide fair trials for them under the Iraqi law.
For his part, Le Drian warned that the Turkish intervention in northern Syria would undermine the gains achieved by the international coalition against the IS.
"There are foreign fighters in camps in northern Syria in large number, including Iraqis. They are in prisons in the camps run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). We have to be cooperative to maintain the security of these prisons," he said.
Le Drian confirmed that there is a need to find appropriate judicial mechanisms to prosecute all these extremist militants and to prevent the re-emergence of the IS militant group in both Iraq and Syria.
"We have fought together (with Iraq) under the international coalition against our enemy Daesh (IS), and we have to work together to confront the imminent danger which appears due to Turkish intervention in Syria," Le Drian told the press conference.
"There is the danger of returning Daesh in Syria and Iraq and we have confirmed, in the international coalition, our determination not to let the return of Daesh again," Le Drian confirmed.
France has repeatedly expressed a preference for its citizens held in Iraq and Syria and who fought with the IS group to be prosecuted there, fearing growing militancy at home.
In coordination with six other European countries -- the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark -- France has been working for the establishment of an international court in Iraq.
As for the tension in the Gulf region, al-Hakim and Le Drian said that they agreed on supporting the efforts to ease the tension in the Gulf between Iran and the United States and the asserted the need to secure the freedom of shipping in the Gulf waters.
Earlier in the day, Le Drian arrived in Baghdad and was received by his Iraqi counterpart al-Hakim before they held a meeting over bilateral ties and issues of common interest as well as the latest development in the Middle East region.
According to media reports, Le Drian is also scheduled to hold meetings with top Iraqi leaders in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to discuss the Turkish military operation in Syria, as well as the issue of IS detainees held by the SDF.