NATO Summit: Leaders will 'not be cowed' by militants, express support for Ukraine, uncertain about Afghanistan
NEWPORT, Wales (AP) - President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are urging fellow NATO leaders not to take an "isolationist approach" in face of threats from Islamic extremists.
With NATO leaders gathered in Wales for a two-day summit, Obama and Cameron say developments in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State group has seized control of a vast area, threaten security in NATO countries.
The two leaders vow they will "not be cowed" despite the gruesome killing of two American journalists.
UKRAINE: Meantime, Obama and four European leaders expressed solidarity with Ukraine in a meeting with that country's president, and agreed that Russia should be punished for its conduct in Ukraine.
Obama and the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Italy sat down with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko as NATO leaders meet in Wales.
Poroshenko is also meeting with the heads of state and government from all 28 NATO member states. But NATO officials have made it clear that membership for Ukraine isn't in the cards anytime soon.
Thursday's meetings come as Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine appear increasingly close to signing a deal to end four months of fighting. Ukraine's president says he's ready to order a cease-fire Friday if a peace deal is signed at talks in Belarus. And the rebels say they're ready to declare a truce if there's an agreement on a political settlement for the region.
But Russia's foreign minister says Ukraine's desire to join NATO is "a blatant attempt to derail all the efforts" to seek a peaceful solution in Ukraine.
AFGHANISTAN: Also, NATO's secretary general warns that time is short for Afghan leaders to resolve their presidential election and sign a security agreement so allied troops can remain in the country after the end of the year.
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says NATO nations stand ready to give assistance and funding to Afghanistan, but final decisions can't be made until the political stalemate ends.
Rasmussen spoke at the end of a session on Afghanistan at the NATO summit here.
Because the presidential election is not final Afghanistan's defense minister represented his country Afghanistan at the summit. He reassured Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a meeting Thursday that both presidential candidates continue to support the security agreement. Outgoing President Hamid Karzai and the two candidates did not attend.