Obama, NATO to huddle on response to ISIS

President Obama will huddle with NATO leaders on the threat posed by fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria during a meeting next week in Wales, the White House said Wednesday.

Press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that he anticipated discussion of ISIS would “be a topic of some conversation” at the NATO summit next week.

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“There obviously will be the leaders of some countries that have a vested interest in that outcome. We also will have the leaders of some countries that we believe can and have already demonstrated a willingness to play a constructive role in dealing with this challenge,” Earnest said.

The White House said it had engaged “a large number of countries” in talks already, and noted that seven Western countries had helped supply Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in Iraq with weapons. The administration is also pushing partners to provide humanitarian support to religious minorities being persecuted by ISIS, and looking to limit the terror group's access to additional funding and weaponry.

“One important way that you can counter these kinds of threats is to shut off their access to money and that, in fact, that's one of the things that makes ISIL so dangerous, is they've already demonstrated that they have significant access to large sums of money and that will make them difficult to confront,” the press secretary said.

The White House wouldn't say if the president hoped to make a decision on whether the U.S. would order airstrikes on ISIS targets within Syria before the president arrived in Wales to meet with foreign leaders. The Pentagon is reportedly drawing up plans for airstrikes, if the president were to order them, and the U.S. has begun surveillance flights over parts of Syria.

“I would not, at this point, set up a time frame for a presidential decision,” Earnest said.

Earnest said that the Pentagon had made clear that it was prepared to offer the president a range of contingencies based on what he decides to do.

“If he should order military action, they want to make sure that they have plans available to carry out that action,” Earnest said. “But I'm not in a position to disclose what sort of plans or conversations the president has had with his military planners.”