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Obama Asks For Global Help Undercutting Radical Ideology


We start this hour with President Obama's call for countries around the world to promote democracy as a way to combat terrorism. He closed a summit today on violent extremism by delivering a speech to representatives of some 65 countries. Coming up, we'll hear what a leader for the group Muslim Advocates thinks of the summit. First, we begin with NPR's Michele Kelemen from the state department.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Critics have ridiculed the White House for choosing an antiseptic or vague name for this conference - the Summit to Counter Violent Extremism - and for talking about the need to create jobs as one way to counter ISIS. Secretary of State John Kerry doesn't like what he's been hearing.


JOHN KERRY: There's been a silly debate in the media in the last days about what you have to do. You have to do everything. You have to take the people off the battlefield who are there today, but you're kind of stupid if all you do is do that and you don't prevent more people from going to the battlefield.

KELEMEN: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says this means getting to the root causes of extremism because he says, quote, "poisonous ideologies do not emerge from thin air."


BAN KI-MOON: Oppression, corruption and injustice are greenhouses for resentment.

KELEMEN: Those were some of the themes President Obama touched on when he told the audience that lasting security requires democracy. He says countries must tackle the economic and political grievances that the terrorists exploit and take other steps to counter radical ideology.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Countries have a responsibility to cut off funding that fuels hatred and corrupts young minds and endangers us all. We need to do more to help lift up voices of tolerance and peace, especially online.

KELEMEN: Each country in the region views the conflict through its own prism. Egypt's foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, whose government came to power after an Islamist party was ousted in a coup, didn't mention any need for democracy. He says Egypt has experience dealing with these groups.


SAMEH SHOUKRY: In the end, the responsibility to confront the violent ideology of the terrorists lies with Muslims themselves. The key to success lies in denying the terrorists the legitimacy they seek in religion to justify their crimes. Egypt's religious institutions has been at the forefront of this battle for decades.

KELEMEN: Jordan's foreign minister is calling for a common Arab position in the fight against ISIS. Jordan stepped up its bombing campaigns after one of its pilots was burned alive by the militants. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.