August 13, 2014 / 8:53 AM / 4 years ago

Czechs looking at ways to supply arms to Iraqi Kurds - foreign minister

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government is looking for ways to supply weapons to Iraqi Kurds battling Islamic State militants, including through private companies, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga troops watch as smoke billows from the town of Makhmur during clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants August 9, 2014. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

The European Union, while failing to agree a joint position on Tuesday, said member states could send arms in coordination with Baghdad.

“We have an idea of what the Kurds want and we have something to offer,” Zaoralek said in an interview with daily newspaper Hospodarske Noviny.

“We are looking for a way to put together some things even without a government decision. It does not have to be about supplying munitions from state warehouses.”

Zaoralek said using private firms would be a solution but declined to name which ones.

No one at the Foreign Ministry was immediately available to comment.

Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani asked the international community on Sunday to provide the Kurds with weapons to help them fight the militants, whose dramatic push through the north has startled world powers.

EU ambassadors, holding an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to discuss the crises in Iraq, Ukraine and Gaza, gave approval for individual governments to send arms under set conditions.

Reporting by Robert Muller; Writing by Jason Hovet, editing by John Stonestreet

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