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NATO foreign ministers in Turkey talk 'Islamic State'

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says NATO foreign ministers will examine how the alliance can fight "Islamic State." The US's John Kerry is filling his counterparts in after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As foreign ministers met in Turkey, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said NATO would examine all possibilities against the "Islamic State" (IS) terror militia. The ministers have gathered in Antalya to plot strategy amid the continued civil war in Ukraine and instability throughout the Middle East, including in Syria and Iraq - countries that border Turkey - where IS controls broad swaths of territory.

"One of the important issues at this meeting, in different formats, will be how NATO can do even more in fighting terrorism and in fighting ISIL," Stoltenberg said, using an acronym for the group's former name.

An international coalition has launched airstrikes against IS since August. US Secretary of State John Kerry said his NATO counterparts wanted to see a clearer defense agreement with Gulf Arab states to fight terror ahead of a summit that President Barack Obama will host at Camp David on Thursday.

'All its forces'

Kerry also brought news of Tuesday's lengthy talks with President Vladimir Putin, his first visit to Russia in over two years - since well before the start of fighting in Ukraine. He called for the full implementation of the Minsk Protocol, an agreement reached in February in the capital of Belarus by the parties to Ukraine's civil war, to finally put an end to the conflict.

"We call on Russia to stop supporting the separatists and to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine," Kerry told reporters on Wednesday in Antalya. "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 added. "This is an enormous moment of opportunity for the conflict there to find a path to certainty and resolution."

Kerry had spent all day Tuesday in the Russian Winter Olympics city of Sochi, where he and Putin sought to ease tensions created largely by disagreements over the civil war. The US secretary of state said NATO members had focused on getting Russia and Ukraine's government to adhere to the terms of the ceasefire agreement reached in February. The EU and United States have imposed a series of economic sanctions against Russia over its alleged support of separatists in the conflict.

The US secretary of state also met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin - who is attending the talks though his country is not a NATO member - and the Turkish premier, former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

On Wednesday, the NATO foreign ministers also agreed to leave a small, civilian-led military contingent in Afghanistan after the current training mandate runs out.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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