Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S., Middle East Allies Committed to Fighting Extremists

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S., Middle East Allies Committed to Fighting Extremists

Article excerpt

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia * Key Arab allies of the United States pledged Thursday to help in the battle against Islamic State militants, promising to stop the flow of fighters and funding to the insurgents and potentially to join military action.

NATO member Turkey refused to join its Arab neighbors in the public expression of support, signaling the struggle the West faces in trying to get nations on the front lines to put aside their regional animosities and work together against the common enemy.

The announcement followed a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts in the Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah. His visit, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was aimed at pinning down the support regional allies are willing to give to U.S. plans to beat back the Islamic State group, which has seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria.

In remarks to reporters after the meeting, Kerry noted the "particularly poignant day" for the discussions.

"The devastating consequences of extremist hate remain fresh in the minds of all Americans, and to so many of our friends and allies around the world," Kerry said of the attacks 13 years ago on the United States. "Those consequences are felt every day here in the Middle East."

The meeting ended with Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf states, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon pledging in a joint statement "to do their share" to stand against terrorism. They promised steps including stopping fighters and funding, repudiating the Islamic State group's ideology, providing humanitarian aid and "as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign."

They also agreed to boost support for the new Iraqi government as it tries to unite its citizens in the fight against the militants, and to devise strategies to "destroy" the group "wherever it is, including in both Iraq and Syria."

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said coalition members agreed to share responsibilities for fighting the Islamic State group, as well as to "be serious and continuous in our action to eliminate and wipe out all these terrorist organizations."

Turkey also attended the meeting but did not sign the final communique.

The NATO ally had been asked to secure its borders to prevent oil smuggling out of Iraq and Syria and keep foreign fighters from heading in. But Ankara has been reluctant to take a prominent role in the coalition, in part out of concern for the 49 Turkish citizens who were kidnapped from the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul when it was overrun by Islamic State fighters in June.

A senior State Department official predicted the U.S. will continue to work with Turkey to repel the insurgents' threat, and said Ankara was in a difficult position as it tried to protect the hostages. …

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