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PM wants UN backing for terror plan

David Cameron has said he believes the United Nations will back the strategy to fight the brutal Islamic State (IS) militants currently being drawn up by a gathering international coalition.

The Prime Minister insisted UN support would be an important part of a comprehensive strategy being drawn up by the United States, Britain and other allies to tackle the extremists.

Ahead of a UN summit next week, Mr Cameron was asked whether its backing could be necessary for Liberal Democrat support for military action against IS, which has seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

The PM told BBC Radio Five Live: "I don't see it like that, I see it that we want to have as part of our comprehensive strategy the full backing of the UN for all of the strategy that's being put in place and that is exactly what I think will happen."

Mr Cameron will attend the UN general assembly in New York next week and he confirmed Britain would seek UN support for the international coalition's strategy to deal with IS, also known as Isis or Isil.

The Prime Minister said: "I do think it's important that the United Nations helps to build the case and supports the case against Isis. They have already committed appalling crimes against people appalling crimes against humanity and support from the UN, yes, is an important part of the comprehensive strategy that we have."

Foreign ministers from more than 30 countries attended talks in Paris today intended to build support for international action against IS, who have killed British aid worker David Haines and two American journalists.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he had made clear that Britain would play a "leading role" in the coalition, although he would not be drawn on whether the Government was ready to join US air strikes on IS in Syria.

He told reporters: "I have said already in Parliament that would be an order of magnitude more difficult than air strikes in Iraq for all sorts of reasons - military, legal and technical - but we haven't ruled it out."

Meanwhile, Mr Hammond revealed that British forces are unable to mount a rescue attempt to free hostages being held by IS because they do not know where they are being detained.

The militants are now threatening to kill a second UK hostage, former cab driver Alan Henning, who was snatched while travelling with an aid convoy in Syria.

The Foreign Secretary said the Government would have been ready to consider "all sorts of options" if they knew where the hostages were.

Mr Hammond said: "We don't know where he is. Obviously, if we knew where he was, we would be able to look at all sorts of options but we don't know where he is.

"We have considered every possible option to support these kidnap victims - both British and others - and if we knew where they were, it would be a different story but we don't know where they are."

Mr Hammond said Mr Henning's family was "going through hell" but that they understood there was a limit to what the Government could do to help him.

Opening the talks in Paris, French president Francois Hollande said the need for action to tackle IS was urgent, calling for a "global response".

Iraqi president Fouad Massoum called for the continuation of air strikes against IS militants in the north of his country to stop them setting up "sanctuaries", as well as cutting off their finances.

US secretary of state John Kerry has been urging allies - especially Middle East and Gulf states - to show a united front and an American official said several Arab countries had offered to join air strikes.

However Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei disclosed that he had received a request from the US to join the fight against IS but said he had rejected it because of Washington's "unclean intentions".

Nevertheless Mr Hammond said that he hoped Tehran - a key player in the region - would still be "co-operative" with the coalition's objectives, although he admitted Iran would never be a "fully-fledged" member of the coalition.

Downing Street said that the heart of the international strategy was building support for forces in the region who are currently engaged in fighting IS.

"The people who must rightly be in the lead in terms of boots on the ground are Iraqi boots on the ground and Kurdish boots on the ground, and we need to put together the approach that best supports that," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said Mr Cameron must recall Parliament, currently in recess until next month, if Britain is to take military action against IS.

Asked whether the PM should reconvene Parliament, Ms Harman told her LBC Radio phone-in : "I think that basically yes he should.

"If there's going to be the use of force then Parliament should be consulted."

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