CAIRO — Secretary of State John F. Kerry arrived in Cairo on Saturday, continuing a U.S. push to build a coalition against the militants of the Islamic State and extract commitments for specific steps to be taken by allies taking part.
Ten Arab states, including Egypt, have promised to help confront the extremist Sunni Muslim militia. The White House is now terming that fight — expected to take the form of stepped-up airstrikes against the group — a “war.”
The regional allies, however, are taking a considerably more conservative stance. A joint communique issued Thursday after talks by the nascent coalition in Saudi Arabia contained the caveat that action against the Islamic State would be taken “as appropriate.”
One key regional player, Turkey, attended the talks but did not sign the communique. Kerry traveled to Ankara on Friday to press Turkey to play an active role, but came away saying it was too soon to expect pledges of particular actions.
Turkey is worried about the fate of more than 40 Turkish citizens held by the group, taken captive when the Islamic State seized the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June. Turkey’s government is also at odds with some of the coalition partners, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, over its support for Islamist movements including the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt signed this week’s communique, but stressed that the Islamic State was only one of a range of militant Islamist groups posing a threat, including armed extremist groups in the Sinai Peninsula.