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Politics In The News: Obama At G-7 Summit

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Great Britain is sending 125 more training forces to Iraq to help Iraqi security battle the self-described Islamic State. And President Obama hinted today that the U.S. may follow suit. Obama joined British Prime Minister David Cameron and other world leaders at a summit meeting in Germany this weekend. They discussed a range of global challenges, including the fight with ISIS. NPR's Scott Horsley has been monitoring the meeting, which just wrapped up, and he joins us now. Welcome Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Ari.

SHAPIRO: So what's the president saying about the fight against the Islamic State?

HORSLEY: Well, in his post-summit news conference, the president said U.S. and its allies want to accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces. He was pressed on does that mean more U.S. trainers will be on their way to Iraq, following those trainers that Cameron announced would be leaving from the U.K. Obama hedged - he said the Pentagon is still working up troop options. And in a phrase that may come back to haunt him politically in this country, he said the U.S. doesn't have a complete strategy yet.

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I think what is fair to say is that all the countries in the international coalition are prepared to do more to train Iraqi security forces if they feel like that additional work has been taken advantage of.

HORSLEY: The president cautioned, as he has before, that if the Iraqi forces are going to be successful against ISIS, they're going to need more cooperation from the Sunni tribes in Anbar Province, where the government forces have suffered some setbacks in recent weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: Without that kind of local participation, even if you have a short-term success, it's very hard to hold those - those areas.

SHAPIRO: And Scott, another big focus at this G7 meeting was Russia and how to respond to Russian actions in Ukraine - sounds like there's some consensus there?

HORSLEY: That's right. The president was pressing his colleagues to maintain economic sanctions against Russia. That's in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its ongoing meddling in eastern Ukraine. The president reminded reporters today that Russian aggression is why this was a G7 meeting, not a G8 meeting. Russia was kicked out of the group last summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: This is now the second year in a row that the G7 has met without Russia - another example of Russia's isolation. And every member of the G7 continues to maintain sanctions on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine.

HORSLEY: And the president says those sanctions are taking a toll on Russia's economy. But as the ongoing violence in Ukraine shows, the sanctions have not yet changed Vladimir Putin's thinking, so Obama says he needs to keep the pressure on. European sanctions are set to expire at the end of this month, so even though the G-7 members have agreed to extend sanctions, they could still be undone if other European players decide not to go along.

SHAPIRO: Scott, the summit was held in Germany, which is fanatical about soccer, as is the rest of Europe. Did that come up? Did world leaders ask President Obama about the U.S. corruption case against soccer's organizing body FIFA?

HORSLEY: It sounds like it didn't come up yesterday, but it probably did at some point today. The president said he wasn't going to talk about the specifics of the ongoing criminal case brought by the U.S. Justice Department. But he did say European counterparts are interested in having a clean game.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

OBAMA: Although, you know, football, soccer, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on, is a game, it's also a massive business. It is a source of incredible national pride, and people want to make sure that it operates with integrity.

HORSLEY: And the president says that's true in this country as well, where he says soccer is getting more and more popular as U.S. teams perform better with each World Cup.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Scott Horsley, wrapping up the G7 summit that just concluded in Germany. Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.