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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Kerry in key Saudi talks on IS

Islamic State crisis: Kerry to meet Arab leaders in JeddahJohn Kerry will be hoping to the backing from the Saudis and other regional powers
  • What is Islamic State?
US Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet key Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, as he tries to build a coalition against Islamic State (IS) militants.

A US official was quoted as saying Mr Kerry would discuss co-operation in Jeddah to facilitate US air strikes.
Earlier, President Barack Obama said he would not hesitate to take action against IS in Syria as well as Iraq.
In a speech outlining his strategy, Mr Obama said any group that threatened America would “find no safe haven”.
He also announced that 475 US military personnel would be sent to Iraq but said they would not have a combat role.
IS controls large parts of Syria and Iraq after a rapid military advance.
Its fighters have become notorious for their brutality, beheading enemy soldiers and Western journalists on video.
The US has launched over 150 air strikes against the group in Iraq and has provided arms to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting against IS.
Rebel training
Mr Kerry, who arrived in the Red Sea port of Jeddah on Thursday, will hold talks with representatives of Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states as well as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Nato member Turkey.
President Obama: “We will degrade and ultimately destroy” IS
“Many of the countries are already taking action against Isil [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - the previous name for IS] ,” a State Department official was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
“But the trip by the secretary [Kerry] is going to broaden the coalition and bring it into more focus and intensify the lines of effort.”
Among the issues to be discussed would be training for Syrian rebels on Saudi soil and a wider overflight permission from regional states to increase the capacity of US aircraft, reports say.
  • A systematic campaign of airstrikes against IS targets “wherever they are”, including in Syria
  • Increased support for allied ground forces fighting against IS – but not President Assad of Syria
  • More counter-terrorism efforts to cut off the group’s funding and help stem the flow of fighters into the Middle East
  • Continuing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the IS advance
Syria’s warning
In a 15-minute speech shown at peak time in the US on Wednesday, President Obama vowed that America would lead “a broad coalition to roll back” IS.
IS fighters have seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq
“Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting Isil targets as Iraqi forces go on the offense,” he said.
President Obama was elected in part because of fervent opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and presided over the US troop pullout from the country.
Analysis: Jon Sopel, BBC North America editor, Washington
For the first time, Islamic State targets on the ground in Syria will be in the crosshairs of American pilots. The president told the American people: “I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.” But he was equally emphatic that the combat on the ground would happen without US troops. Instead the US will ramp up its military assistance to the Syrian opposition.
But the president was also at pains to express what this wasn’t. “We will not get dragged into another ground war,” he insisted. He said that America would lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat and would not be acting alone. There were two cautionary notes – the first on timescale and also that this would not be risk-free to American servicemen and women. Action is going to start: who knows when it will be mission accomplished.
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