Kerry confident of broad anti-IS coalition

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he was confident that a broad coalition including Arab and European nations along with the United States would be formed against the Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Ankara: US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence Friday of building a broad coalition including Arab and European nations against Islamic State jihadists, on a visit to Turkey which has refused to allow strikes on the extremists from its territory.

The top US diplomat also voiced Washington`s opposition to Iran joining a conference on the Iraq crisis in Paris on Monday.

Kerry held talks in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of a push to establish a coalition of more than 40 countries to defeat the IS militants in Iraq and Syria.

"I am comfortable that it would be a broad-based coalition with Arab nations, European nations, the United States and others, contributing to every single different facet of what (President Barack) Obama laid out as a strategy... to degrade and destroy" the IS militants, Kerry told journalists.

"We will lay out what country is doing what, who is doing what within the coalition when we have the work done," he said.

But he added that while Turkey and the US stand together in regional challenges, Ankara`s role in the anti-IS campaign would be determined later.

France meanwhile will host an international conference on Iraq aimed at coordinating actions against the IS militants. The decision to host the conference came after US President Barack Obama vowed this week to expand operations, including to Syria.

Obama`s objective to build a broad coalition to defeat IS has been riddled with question marks including whether to include Iran -- the main backer of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad who is a pariah as far as the West is concerned.

But Kerry made it clear that the United States was opposed to Iran`s participation at the Paris conference.

"No one has called me and asked me with respect to the presence of Iran, but I think under the circumstances, at this moment in time... it would not be appropriate, given the many other issues that are on the table with respect to their engagement in Syria and elsewhere," Kerry said.

Turkey, a NATO member and Washington`s key ally in the region, has been reluctant to take part in combat operations against IS militants, or allow a US-led coalition to use its airbases for strikes against the jihadists.

"We agreed that today, ISIL is one of the greatest threats to Turkey`s security and the security of the entire region and beyond," Kerry said, using an alternative name for the jihadist group.

Turkey has been accused of indirectly encouraging the formation of IS with its wholehearted support of Islamist elements within the Syrian rebellion against Assad.

IS militants now hold 49 Turks hostage, including diplomats and children, abducted from the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq in June.

"The two countries will continue to fight against the terrorist organisations in the regions as in the past," the Turkish president`s office said in a statement, after a two-hour-long meeting between Erdogan and Kerry.

In this regard, Turkey will continue to share intelligence with the United States, give logistical support to the Syrian opposition and humanitarian aid to the victims of the war in Syria, it added.

A US official in Ankara said: "Obviously there are some sensitivities that Turkey has and we respect that but they are an important counter-terrorism partner.

"That is why we certainly have meetings and engagements with them."

Kerry`s visit comes a day after 10 Arab states, including heavyweight Saudi Arabia, agreed in Jeddah to rally behind Washington in the fight against IS. Although Turkey was represented in the meeting by its foreign minister, it did not sign the communique.

Participation in the fight will include "as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign against ISIL," the final statement said.

On arriving in Ankara, Kerry said that the US would provide an additional $500 million (385 million euros) in humanitarian aid to victims of the war in Syria, bringing total US assistance to $2.9 billion since the start of the conflict in 2011.

Kerry`s next stop on his Middle East tour will be Cairo on Saturday.

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