WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Calls to combat the Islamic State have grown as the terrorist group itself grew into a regional menace with global outreach and captured vast areas of land in Syria and Iraq. US intelligence has estimated that nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have joined the Islamic State.
"The objective has to be to have a conversation between the Saudis and the Iranians, but this is not working… because we do not put enough pressure on both sides to do it," Solana told Sputnik about the role of the leading Shia and Sunni states in defeating the Islamic State.
Solana noted that Iran at present is "much more open" to talk than Saudi Arabia, who represents Sunni Islam, the branch of Islam that the Islamic State also claims to represent.
"Without the commitment of the Arabs it is very difficult to resolve this problem," Solana noted, adding that the Islamic State cannot be defeated "without the help of the Sunnis."
Saudi Arabia and Iran have historically strained relations, but their rivalry has increased as Iran has supported operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Prior to assuming the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy position, Solana served as NATO Secretary General from 1995 to 1999.