Paris attacks: Iran's President Rouhani cancels visit to Italy and France

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday (Nov 14) cancelled his visit to Italy and France.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday (Nov 14) cancelled his visit to Italy and France.PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (REUTERS/AFP) - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday (Nov 14) cancelled his visit to Italy and France following attacks in Paris that left at least 120 dead, Iran's foreign minister was quoted as saying by the state news agency, IRNA.

"Due to the terrorist incidents in Paris and in coordination with the hosts, the Iranian president postponed his visit to Italy, Vatican and France to a more convenient time," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, told state television, according to IRNA.

Mr Zarif, who had been due to travel with Mr Rouhani, told state television he would now instead head Iran's delegation to international talks on the Syrian conflict in Vienna "to discuss the fight against Daesh (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and extremism".

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian had been due to lead the Iranian team.

Mr Zarif said the Paris attacks made the Vienna talks all the more important as world governments needed to work together to fight against the Islamic State group and other extremists. "We must use the opportunity presented by these crimes to coordinate internationally," he said. "The Paris events show once again that terrorism and extremism are an international threat and that international cooperation is necessary to fight this phenomenon."

Mr Rouhani strongly condemned Friday's deadly attacks in Paris, branding them "crimes against humanity" in a message to his French counterpart Francois Hollande, IRNA said.

"In the name of the Iranian people, who have themselves been victims of terrorism, I strongly condemn these crimes against humanity and offer my condolences to the grieving French people and government," Mr Rouhani wrote.

Iran is, with Russia, a key backer of the Syrian regime not only against ISIS but also against other rebel groups. It is also a major supporter of Iraq in its war against the militants independently of the US-led coalition.