ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — A day after lengthy talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was filling in allies during a gathering of NATO foreign ministers in the southern Turkish town of Antalya.
The ministers have gathered here to plot strategy amid the continued crisis in Ukraine and instability throughout the Middle East, including in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Kerry was also meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Kerry spent all day Tuesday in the Russian city of Sochi where he and Putin sought to ease tensions created largely by disagreements over the situation in Ukraine. Kerry said that NATO members were focused on getting Russia and Ukraine to adhere to the terms of a cease-fire agreement reached in February.
“I think that there is strong agreement among all the NATO members that this is a critical moment for action by Russia, by the separatists to live up to the Minsk agreement,” he said in Antalya. “This is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path to certainty and resolution.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also called on Russia to take steps to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He said NATO has increased its presence along its eastern flank in the face of Russia’s increased assertiveness.
The NATO gathering also turned to the instability in the Middle East. Addressing the meeting, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the Islamic State group posed an increasing threat on Turkey’s doorstep.
“This terrorist organization is a direct threat to our national security,” he said, adding that NATO needs to deal with the root causes of the IS group’s terrorism by looking at the economic and humanitarian dimensions as well as the military and political.
Desmond Butler in Istanbul contributed to this report.
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