Mideast conference discusses threat from ISIL

Leaders and ministers from nine Middle Eastern nations and France have discussed efforts to eliminate the threat of the Islamic State militant group at an international conference hosted by Iraq.

The meeting on regional issues was held in Baghdad on Saturday, two days after a deadly suicide bombing in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The attack is believed to have been conducted by members of a regional affiliate of Islamic State militants.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the Islamic State group remains a threat and that the countries must not lower their guard.

The participants also agreed on increased cooperation to help rebuild the economy of Iraq, where many infrastructure facilities were destroyed in the fight against the Islamic State group.

US troops stationed in Iraq are expected to end their combat mission by the year-end. The forces have been in operations to wipe out Islamic State militants.

Among the participants were foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and Iran, which severed their diplomatic relations five years ago.

Iraq, the host country, is apparently trying to increase its presence in the region by inviting the opposing parties and encouraging them to improve ties.