U.S. sailors launch aircraft
U.S. sailors launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the Gulf. August 8, 2014. Photo by Reuters
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REUTERS - President Francois Hollande said on Friday that France was ready to take part in action to end civilian suffering in Iraq, and planned talks with international partners to that end.

"The international community cannot ignore the threat represented by the advance of this terrorist group for the local population, the stability not only of Iraq but of the whole region," said Hollande in a statement.

"France will examine with the United States and other international partners what actions could be undertaken to end civilian suffering. We are ready to take responsibility for our part."

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier echoed Hollande's call for action. Steinemir on Friday told Reuters he supported the U.S. bombing of Islamist fighters in northern Iraq because that was, for the time being, the only way to stop their progress.

"In the short term air strikes seem to be the only way to prevent an advance by (Islamic State) and to open up escape routes," Steinmeier said.

"Now it's a matter of preventing genocide and freeing the affected people from their terrible plight."

U.S. warplanes carried out attacks on Friday after President Barack Obama said Washington must act to prevent "genocide". The White House said there was no specific end date for U.S. military strikes, and any future end date will depend on the security situation on the ground.

Earlier on Friday Steinmeier had strongly criticised the Islamic State and said Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds needed to put their power struggle aside and agree on a new government to stop the Islamist forces which have taken over swathes of the north.

On Friday the German Foreign Ministry set up a crisis unit on the situation in northern Iraq and boosted humanitarian aid.

The ministry said the security situation in the north was very volatile and unpredictable.

"We therefore warn against travel to the Kurdish region of Iraq," it said, adding that people there should take measures to leave at short notice if necessary.