President Obama will participate in a rare videoconference with the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy on Wednesday as he looks to build support for efforts to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Ebola.
The world leaders will also discuss additional steps they can take to pressure Russia to abide by a ceasefire agreement struck with the leaders of Ukraine, the White House said.
At an event Tuesday with top defense officials from nearly two dozen allies — including the four European countries Obama will coordinate with in the videoconference — Obama vowed that the anti-ISIS coalition remained "united behind this long-term effort."
"Because of the numbers of foreign fighters that are being attracted, and the chaos that ISIL was creating in the region, ultimately it will pose a threat beyond the Middle East, including to the United States, Europe, and far-flung countries like Australia that have already seen terrorist networks trying to infiltrate and impact population centers on the other side of the world," Obama said, using an alternative acronym for the terror group.
France and the U.K. have joined the U.S. in conducting airstrikes against ISIS, although the administration could be looking to rally additional support. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier indicated Berlin would not participate in the bombing campaign, despite having deployed forces to Afghanistan to fight al Qaida.
“It doesn’t make sense, if a dozen countries are launching air strikes, for Germany to be the 13th or 14th country. It is utterly wrong to regard participation in air strikes as a yardstick for international commitment," Steinmeier said, according to The Guardian.
Italy has offered to send arms and aid, but has also indicated it would not participate in the strikes.
In the same meeting, Obama chastised international leaders for not doing enough to combat the threat posed by Ebola.
"As I've said before, and I'm going to keep on repeating until we start seeing more progress, the world as a whole is not doing enough," Obama said. "There are a number of countries that have capacity that have not yet stepped up."
On Tuesday, the European Union urged member governments to quickly coordinate a response to limit the spread of the virus, which has left nearly 4,500 West Africans dead.
“If we are to contemplate such measures, they will only be truly effective if applied by concerned member states in a coordinated manner,” EU health commissioner Tonio Borg, said in a letter to health ministers obtained by The New York Times.
The virtual meeting between Obama and the world leaders also comes a day after a confrontational meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryClimate policies propel a growing dysfunction of Western democracies Kerry calls out countries that need to 'step up' on climate change Those on the front lines of climate change should be empowered to be central to its solution MORE and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
Kerry pressured Lavrov to withdraw foreign fighters from Eastern Ukraine, release prisoners and denounce independence referenda in territories held by pro-Russian rebel forces.
“Any efforts to hold independence referenda in Luhansk and Donetsk are a violation of the Minsk agreements and the results will not be recognized by Ukraine and by the international community,” Kerry said. “The foreign minister did not agree with our judgment on the referenda, so that was a point of disagreement.”