Iran and Australia agree to share intelligence on Daesh foreign fighters
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop hold a press conference following a meeting in Tehran on April 18, 2015. (Image: Atta Kenare/AFP)
Australia and Iran will share intelligence to track foreign fighters working with the Islamic State (Daesh) group in Iraq, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday, as lawmakers urged caution.
In the first trip to Iran by an Australian minister in more than a decade, Bishop said it would be an informal arrangement.
Her comments came after a meeting with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, President Hassan Rouhani and Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign affairs advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"We have a common purpose with Iran in defeating Daesh and helping the Iraqi government," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the militant IS group.
"During my discussions with the national leadership here, it was agreed that we could share intelligence, particularly on the foreign terrorist fighters from Australia who are taking part in this conflict in Iraq."
More than 100 Australians have travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with the militants, raising concerns about the threat of 'home-grown' extremists.
On Saturday, two men were arrested in Melbourne for allegedly planning an IS-inspired attack at Anzac Day commemorations on April 25 honouring soldiers who fought and died for Australia.
Bishop said Tehran had a strong military presence and long relationship with Iraq, coupled with a sophisticated intelligence network in places where Canberra had no presence.
"I believe that Iran has information that we would seek and they were very agreeable to share that information with us," she said, without spelling out what Tehran would get in return.
"I won't go into detail of our intelligence-sharing arrangements," she said.
"But obviously if Iran has information that will be of interest to us, if we have information that would be of interest to them, in pursuing our common purpose of defeating Daesh, then that is an appropriate exchange."