U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced optimism over pledges to counter the threat of militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and said some nations had offered ground troops.
Kerry arrived in Paris on Saturday after visiting several countries in the Middle East, in a tour aimed at mobilizing support for President Barack Obama’s plan to target ISIS militants.
"We have countries in this region, countries outside of this region, in addition to the United States, all of whom are prepared to engage in military assistance, in actual strikes if that is what it requires. And we also have a growing number of people who are prepared to do all the other things," Kerry said in remarks aired on Sunday on the CBS program “Face the Nation.”
On the CNN program “State of the Union,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was asked if this coalition would need ground troops beyond opposition forces in Syria and Kurdish and government forces in Iraq.
"Ultimately to destroy ISIL [ISIS] we do need to have a force, an anvil against which they will be pushed – ideally Sunni forces," he said.
Kerry reiterated President Barack Obama’s statement that U.S. ground troops would not be used against ISIS.
"We're not looking to put troops on the ground," Kerry said. "There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that at this moment anyway," Kerry said. He did not identify the countries.
On Thursday, Kerry won the backing for a “coordinated military campaign” from 10 Arab countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
"This is a strategy coming together as the coalition comes together and the countries declare what they are prepared to do," Kerry said in the interview, taped on Saturday in Egypt.
"I've been extremely encouraged to hear from all of the people that I've been meeting with about their readiness and willingness and to participate," Kerry added.
McDonough also said Obama would meet on Tuesday with Gen. John Allen, his newly appointed special presidential envoy for building the coalition against ISIS. McDonough also said Kerry would testify before the U.S. Congress on the matter this week.
Right before heading to Paris, Kerry visited Egypt, and described the critical role to be played by the country.
“Egypt is on the frontline of the fight against terrorism, particularly when it comes to fighting extremist groups in Sinai,” Kerry told a news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri.
French President Francois Hollande will welcome diplomats from up to 20 countries on Monday for a security summit; the conference comes ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting next week, and a heads of state meeting at the UN General Assembly later this month.
(With Reuters and AFP)SHOW MORE