Canberra, April 20: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Monday announced an intelligence sharing deal with Iran on the Australians fighting with the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Iraq. Bishop said Iran and Australia had agreed to share intelligence on Australian citizens fighting in Iraq as part of each country’s effort to counter IS fighters, ABC reported. Speaking from Iran, Bishop said the two countries had a common purpose in defeating IS extremists.
“It was an informal arrangement whereby we’d share intelligence that would give us information on the Australians who are taking part,” she said. “I believe Iran has information that we would seek and they were very agreeable to share that information with us.”
She met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and tiol Security Council head Ali Shamkhani on Saturday in Tehran.
She was the first Australian minister to visit Iran after a period of 10 years. Bishop said Australia began exploring intelligence sharing on this issue late last year. Those efforts were spurred on when in December 2014, Iranian refugee Man Haron Monis took hostages in the fatal Martin Place siege in Sydney. Bishop stressed that Australia’s small military presence in Iraq would not be involved with Iranian forces.
“I wanted there to be no misunderstanding of Australia’s role there, that it is limited to supporting the Iraqi government, that we are there at the initiation of the Iraqi government,” she added. (IANS)