Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed sympathy for the bereaved families of those killed or injured in the attacks staged by Boko Haram, a Wahhabi Al-Qaeda affiliate in Nigeria, and deplored terrorism and extremism.

"We condemn extremism and terrorism and sympathize with the victims of the crimes committed by Boko Haram terrorist group," Zarif said, addressing a ceremony hosted by the Iranian foreign ministry to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the African Union (AU) in Tehran on Saturday.

He said that the goal of the terrorist groups is defaming different religions.

His remarks were made as the United Nations imposed sanctions on Boko Haram, blacklisting it as an Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization as protesters stepped up demands on Nigeria to release more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by the terrorist group in April.

The group, which demands the creation of an independent state in Northern Nigeria, has recently escalated its campaign of attacks that have left thousands dead since 2009.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Zarif underlined the Iranian government's willingness to expand all-out ties with Africa without any limitations.

He also reminded the African leaders' role in the establishment of justice and freedom in Africa, and said unity among nations is needed to fight the new forms of discrimination and apartheid which still exist in some parts of the world.

Tehran has prioritized promotion of its economic and political ties with the African states and the country is now considered as one of the African Union's strategic partners.

Tehran's efforts to boost ties and cooperation with Africa have led to its acceptance as an observing member of the AU, where it has shown an active presence in the AU summit meetings.

News ID 186650