JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia — Key Arab allies of the U.S. agreed Thursday to "do their share" to fight against the Islamic State group, promising to take action to stop the flow of fighters and funding to the militants and possibly to join military action.
The announcement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with regional counterparts in the Saudi Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah in an effort to pin down Middle Eastern allies on what support they are willing to give to the U.S. plan to beat back the Islamic State group, which has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria.
After their talks, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states and Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon issued a joint statement saying they were committed to stand against terrorism. They promised steps including stopping fighters and funding and "as appropriate, joining in the many aspects of a coordinated military campaign" against the militants.
They also agreed to boost support for the new Iraqi government as it tries to unite its citizens in the fight against the militants, and discussed strategies to "destroy" the group "wherever it is, including in both Iraq and Syria."
NATO ally Turkey also attended the meeting but did not sign the final communique.
Greater regional support is seen as key to combatting the spread of the militant group, which has proved so ruthless that even al-Qaida severed ties with it earlier this year. Nearly 40 nations have agreed to contribute to what Kerry predicted will be a worldwide fight to defeat the group.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday laid out a long-term U.S. strategy against the group that would include expanding airstrikes against its fighters in Iraq, launching strikes against them in Syria for the first time and bolstering the Iraqi military and moderate Syrian rebels to allow them to reclaim territory from the militants.
Some Gulf states could in theory take an active role in helping with airstrikes, as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar did in the U.S.-led aerial campaign over Libya in 2011 that helped lead to the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi. Gulf nations could also assist with arms, training, intelligence and logistics.
Saudi Arabia's willingness to host the meeting is significant given the OPEC kingpin's role as a political and economic heavyweight and the site of Islam's holiest sites.
A senior U.S. State Department official, who was not authorized to be named while briefing reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters ahead of the Saudi meeting that Kerry would ask Mideast countries to encourage government-controlled media and members of the religious establishment to speak out against extremism.
The coalition-building efforts could be hampered, however, by squabbling among Washington's allies in the region.
For example, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt are at odds with Qatar and Turkey because of the latter two countries' support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in the region.
American officials have voiced concerns too about Kuwait's and Qatar's willingness to crack down on private fundraising for extremist groups. While they have made some progress, the State Department official said much more needs to be done.
The U.S. already has launched more than 150 airstrikes against militants in Iraq over the past month, and has sent military advisers and millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, including an additional $48 million announced Wednesday.
The Mideast diplomatic push comes ahead of a conference set for Monday in Paris on how to stabilize Iraq. That meeting will include officials from the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China, and could also include other nations — possibly even Iran.
Schreck reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.