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Iran assures help in getting abducted Indian workers released

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS): Iran Thursday assured all possible help to India in seeking release of 39 workers, who were kidnapped by Sunni insurgents of the ISIS in Iraq's Mosul last week.

Following a series of meetings here with senior officials of the ministry of external affairs during which Iranian help was sought to end the hostage crisis, Iranian Ambassador Gholam Reza Ansari said his country will cooperate with the Indian government on this sensitive issue so that the hostages are released unharmed.

Ansari also held extensive discussions on the latest political and security situation in Iraq.

He said Iran is against any military intervention in Iraq at this juncture as it would further complicate the issue, and divide the country along sectarian and racial lines.

Contending that the best course was to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to tackle the ISIS militants, he admitted that some neighbouring nations of Iraq had helped the extremist group.

Ansari said the conflict with the extremists should not be seen in the context of Shia-Sunni rivalry but as a threat to the unity and integrity of Iraq. He also blamed "enemies of Islam" for trying to create a wedge between Shias and Sunnis.

The ambassador said hundreds of Sunni as well as Shia clerics have given a fatwa (decree) in favour of the Maliki government and this will unite moderate and democratic forces to fight extremism.

He said that many terrorists, who were earlier fighting in Syria, have recently joined ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria) militant group.

Asked about the failure of the Maliki government in allowing ISIS to emerge as a major military force, Ansari admitted that there was an intelligence failure but stressed that the need of the hour is not to criticise the Iraqi government but to solidly support it to root out terrorism.