Obama, UN chief talk counterterrorism

President Obama spoke with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday amid reports he would seek a U.N. Security Council resolution requiring governments to pass laws to block the flow of foreign fighters to terror groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The president and Ban “agreed on the need for a broad coalition to counter the threat posed by” ISIS, the White House said in a statement Monday night.


The phone call came as Bloomberg News reported the president would personally offer a resolution during a Security Council meeting later this month that would demand nations limit the travel of citizens going to the Middle East to join ISIS. The resolution would also reportedly improve information sharing about possible terrorist sympathizers among national governments and allow the United Nations to impose sanctions against countries that did not abide by the requirements.

Foreign policy experts estimate that thousands of individuals have traveled from outside the region to Syria and Iraq to join the conflicts raging in those counties. 

“We are concerned and remain concerned about the threat of violence that is posed by foreign fighters,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

“There is a threat that those individuals pose because they have an American passport. They can freely travel back to the United States and would, therefore, be in a position to potentially carry out acts of violence here in this country. That is something that we’re concerned about and something that we’re monitoring very closely.”

Earnest added that a “large number” of the foreign fighters originated from Western Europe, providing a particular concern about the possibility of domestic terrorism.

“The president is actually going to convene a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss this issue and to talk about what sort of role the U.N. and our Security Council partners can play in trying to mitigate this threat that faces not just the United States, but to our allies and interests around the globe,” Earnest said.

In addition to the discussion about ISIS, Obama and Ban discussed “the need for greater international assistance to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” according to the White House.

Over the weekend, Obama said he would dispatch the U.S. military to the region to help contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The pair also discussed the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the possibility of an international monitoring mechanism to secure the recently brokered cease-fire between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists.