Barack Obama, Sergio Mattarella.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MIKE THEILER / POOL

US President Barack Obama thanked Italian President Sergio Mattarella Monday for Italy's contributions in the international fight against Islamic State, including work to keep the terrorist militia from gaining a foothold in Libya.

The leaders discussed the anti-Islamic State coalition's campaign in Iraq and Syria, including Italian efforts to secure Iraq's Mosul Dam, Obama told reporters in the Oval Office.

On Libya, they discussed the need to help the strife-torn country form a government "that will allow us then to help them build up their security capacity and to push back against efforts by ISIL to gain a foothold in that country," Obama said.

Mattarella said the leaders discussed "the different theatres where there are crises - Syria, Iraq, Libya for example - and it is through the cooperation based on the Atlantic alliance through the alliance itself that we can hope to bring stability and security to these many different areas."

Italy has been among US allies drumming up support to act against Islamic State in Libya in order to stem its advance.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest stressed that the US is concerned Islamic State has tried to capitalize on political instability, but that the focus is on strengthening the Libyan government and going after Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The leaders also discussed the refugee crisis in Europe and trade negotiations between the US and the European Union.

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