NATO's chief confirmed Thursday that the alliance will join the international coalition fighting ISIS but will not wage direct war against the extremists—an announcement timed for President Trump's first appearance at a summit of the alliance's leaders. In the wake of this week's suicide bomb attack in Manchester, NATO leaders meeting in Brussels are keen to show that the alliance born in the Cold War is responding to today's security threats, the AP reports. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says joining the US-led anti-ISIS coalition "will send a strong political message of NATO's commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our coordination within the coalition."
But he underlined that "it does not mean that NATO will engage in combat operations." All 28 NATO allies are already individual members of the 68-nation anti-ISIS coalition. But some, notably France and Germany, have feared that NATO officially joining it might upset decision-making within the coalition or alienate Middle East countries taking part. NATO will also set up a counter-terrorism intelligence cell to improve information-sharing. It will notably focus on so-called foreign fighters who travel from Europe to train or fight with extremists in Iraq and Syria. Another big item on the NATO agenda is Trump's challenge to other countries to raise their military spending. Leaders will agree to submit annual action plans. (Read more NATO stories.)