NATO to Join Anti-IS Coalition 05/25 05:56
BRUSSELS (AP) -- NATO's chief affirmed Thursday that the alliance will join
the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group but will not wage
direct war against the extremists --- an announcement timed for U.S. President
Donald Trump's first appearance at a summit of the alliance's leaders.
In the wake of this week's suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester,
NATO leaders are keen to show that the alliance born in the Cold War is
responding to today's security threats as they meet in Brussels. Trump has
questioned its relevance and pushed members to do more to defend themselves.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that joining the U.S.-led
anti-Islamic State coalition "will send a strong political message of NATO's
commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our coordination
within the coalition."
But he underlined that "it does not mean that NATO will engage in combat
All 28 NATO allies are individual members of the 68-nation anti-IS
coalition. But some, notably France and Germany, have feared that NATO
officially joining it might upset decision-making within the coalition or
alienate Middle East countries taking part.
Stoltenberg said that joining would send a strong political signal.
As part of its efforts to respond to Trump's demand to do more to fight
terrorism, NATO will also set up a counter-terrorism intelligence cell to
It will notably focus on so-called foreign fighters who travel from Europe
to train or fight with extremists in Iraq and Syria.
After a working dinner at Thursday's summit, the leaders are also set to
announce the appointment of an anti-terror coordinator to oversee their
efforts, and increase the number of flight hours of a surveillance plane
watching the skies over northern Iraq and Syria.
Another big item on the NATO agenda is Trump's challenge to other countries
to up their military spending. Leaders will agree to submit annual action plans
laying out how they plan to meet NATO's spending goals. The plans would also
describe what kind of military equipment they intend to invest in, and what
contributions they will make to operations.
Stoltenberg refused to be drawn into a row between the United States and
Britain after leaked photos from the Manchester bomb scene appeared in The New
He said the dispute over leaked intelligence is a "bilateral issue," but
noted that within NATO "sharing intelligence is based on trust."