Barack Obama has declared wiping out Islamic State his “top priority” as his secretary of state, John Kerry, prepared to visit Brussels in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that killed 31 people and wounded 270.
Speaking during a visit to Argentina, the US president called for countries around the world to unite against Isis, which claimed responsibility for the attacks at Brussels airport and a metro station.
“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate, but my top priority is to defeat Isil and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world,” Obama, using an alternative acronym for the group, told reporters. “There’s no more important item on my agenda than going after them and defeating them. The issue is, how do we do it in an intelligent way?”
He spoke alongside his Argentinian counterpart, Mauricio Macri, at the start of a trip to Argentina following his landmark visit to Cuba. He has resisted calls from some Republicans to return to Washington following the attacks.
Obama condemned presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s calls for surveillance of Muslim neighbourhoods as contrary to American values, comparing the proposal to the restrictions on religion and free speech in Cuba, which Cruz’s father fled.