Saudi Arabia will hold talks about militant violence in the region on Thursday with the United States and Muslim allies, the kingdom announced on Tuesday, in an apparent attempt to support international efforts to tackle crises in Iraq and Syria.
The world’s No. 1 oil exporter is unnerved by the rapid advance of Islamic State — a militant group that has overrun swathes of Iraq and Syria — and fears it could radicalise some of its own citizens and lead to attacks on the U.S.-allied government.
“The meeting will tackle the issue of terrorism in the region and the extremist organisations that stand behind it and the means of addressing it,” a statement carried on the official Saudi Press Agency said.
It said the participants would include Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and member states of the six-country Gulf Coopertion Council (GCC), which in addition to the kingdom comprises Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
Arab League foreign ministers agreed on Sunday to take all necessary measures to confront the Islamic State.
President Barack Obama, who has authorised weeks of air strikes in Iraq to check advances by Islamic State fighters, would like Gulf Arab states to consider military action as well, and would like to see them support Sunni Muslim moderates in Iraq and Syria who could undermine the appeal of Islamic State.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is to travel to Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the coming week for talks with Gulf leaders to determine whether they are prepared to back up their anti-jihadist rhetoric with action.