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PM Harper and world leaders talk defence and Afghanistan at NATO

Harper says the West cannot afford to sit still in the face of the naked brutality shown by the Islamist insurgents.

Some heavy topics will be discussed at the table (and on the sidelines) at the NATO Summit that opens later Thursday in Newport, Wales.

Prime Minister Harper is there, where the first item on the agenda of the western military allies will be the final withdrawal of forces later this year from Afghanistan after more than a decade of war.

Yesterday, Harper said people should be talking about what Canada has contributed to international military missions and not necessarily how much the country spends on defence.

His government is under pressure from allies, notably the U.S. and Britain, to boost the defence budget in light of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the rising threat in Syria and Iraq posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

He says the West cannot afford to sit still in the face of the naked brutality shown by the Islamist insurgents. Harper says the murder of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff is just the tip of the iceberg and ordinary people are suffering the same fate in regions controlled by the extremists.

Despite the crisis, he says Canada will continue to be frugal in its defence spending.

But before the formal session, U-S President Barack Obama is meeting with European allies to discuss the West's response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine and Islamic extremists' rampage across Syria and northern Iraq.

In a joint editorial in today's Times of London, Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron say they will ``not be cowed'' by the Islamic militants who have killed two American journalists.

``We will be more forthright in the defence of our values, not least because a world of greater freedom is a fundamental part of how we keep our people safe,'' the leaders wrote in a joint editorial in the Times of London.

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