NEWPORT, Wales (AP) -- Faced with a mounting militant threat in the Middle East, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron declared Thursday that their nations will "not be cowed" by extremists who have killed two American journalists.<br />
"We will be more forthright in the defense of our values, not least because a world of greater freedom is a fundamental part of how we keep our people safe," the leaders wrote in a joint editorial in the Times of London.<br />
Their comments come as world leaders gather at a golf resort in Wales for a high-stakes NATO summit. While the official agenda will focus on the crisis in Ukraine and the drawdown of the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan, the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria will dominate discussions on the sidelines of the summit.<br />
The militants have claimed responsibility for murdering two American journalists, releasing gruesome videos of their beheadings. Both the U.S. and Britain are deeply concerned about the potential threat to their homelands that could come from the foreign fighters who have joined the violent Islamic State group.<br />
Cameron on Monday proposed new laws that would give police the power to seize the passports of Britons suspected of having traveled abroad to fight with terrorist groups.<br />
Obama and Cameron appear to suggest that NATO should play a role in containing the militants, but were not specific in what action they would seek from the alliance. Arriving at the summit on Thursday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he believes the broader international community "has an obligation to stop the Islamic State from advancing further," but noted that the alliance hasn't received any request for help.<br />
"I'm sure that if the Iraqi government were to forward a request for NATO assistance, that would be considered seriously by NATO allies," Rasmussen said.<br />
The U.S. began launching airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq last month, and both the U.S. and Britain have been making humanitarian aid drops to besieged minority groups there.
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
House Republican leaders rallied around one of their own, Whip Steve Scalise, on Tuesday after he said he regrets speaking 12 years ago to a white supremacist organization and condemns the views of such groups.
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