LONDON: There is growing concern about the Daesh threat outside of Iraq and Syria, and the coalition fighting the terrorist organization should focus on west Africa and the Sahel region, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday.
Pompeo also urged members of the coalition fighting against Daesh to take extremist detainees back to their countries and step up their funding to help restore infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, parts of which have been severely damaged by conflict.
"Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody, and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated," Pompeo said at the opening of a meeting of foreign ministers from the global coalition to defeat Daesh.
#WashingtonDC| FM Prince @FaisalbinFarhan heads the Kingdom’s delegation to the Foreign Ministerial small group meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh (ISIS). The Saudi delegation included Princess @rbalsaud Saudi Amb. to U.S. and MoS for Arab Gulf Affairs @thamersas pic.twitter.com/SSBNIQGgCP
— Foreign Ministry (@KSAmofaEN) November 14, 2019
Pompeo vowed that the United States will keep fighting the extremist group, and reassured worried allies convened in Washington.
"The United States will continue to lead the coalition and the world on this essential security effort," Pompeo said as he opened a day of talks in Washington.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan headed the Kingdom’s delegation at the meeting on Thursday and also met with Pompeo.
Delighted to meet @SecPompeo today in Washington, DC. Saudi-US have a long-standing strategic partnership. We affirmed the strong ties between our countries and the joint efforts in confronting terrorism in the region and the world. pic.twitter.com/NEly2OgADW
— فيصل بن فرحان (@FaisalbinFarhan) November 14, 2019
The foreign minister said that two officials discussed “the strong ties” between their countries and “the joint efforts in confronting terrorism in the region and the world.”
Members of the coalition fighting Daesh had a "difference of opinion" at a meeting in Washington on Thursday on whether extremist detainees should be repatriated, the US Special Representative for Syria Jim Jeffrey said.
"There was some difference of opinion on whether they should be repatriated or whether that should be something that countries are still going to look at and think about in more detail, but nonetheless, that is acknowledged as a significant problem," Jeffrey told a news conference.
Daesh has lost almost all of its territory in Iraq and Syria. Former leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed in a US raid last month, but the militant group remains a security threat in Syria and beyond.
Some 10,000 Daesh detainees and tens of thousands of family members remain in camps and prisons in northeastern Syria guarded by the Syrian Kurdish allies of the United States. Washington is pushing European countries to take their citizens back, but so far they have been reluctant to do so.