WASHINGTON — President Obama said he will send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East in an effort to build a coalition of "strong regional partners" to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
"ISIL poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq, and the people of the region," he said. But he also tamped down expectations that there would be an imminent military response in Syria,
"I want to make sure everyone is clear on what we're doing now, because it is limited," he said. "We're going to cobble together the coalition we need for a long term strategy. There will be a military aspect to that, and it's going to be important for Congress to know what that is, in part because it's going to cost some money."
His remarks to reporters Thursday afternoon came before a scheduled meeting of his National Security Council. White House officials said not to expect any decisions to be announced after the meeting.
The National Security Council meeting also comes as the United States is denouncing another Russian incursion into Ukraine. At a United Nations Security Council emergency meeting U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power repeatedly accused Russia of lying about the conflict.
Obama said there's no doubt that Russia is responsible for the violence in the former Soviet republic, and would pay a price for that.
"This is not a homegrown indigenous uprising in eastern Ukraine. The separatists are backed, armed and financed by Russia. We've seen deep Russian inbvolvement in everything they've done," he said.
"Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War. This ongoing Russian incursion into Ukraine will only bring more costs," he said.