President Obama pledged Tuesday to “do everything we can” to assist the Nigerian government in locating the 276 girls recently kidnapped from their school in the African nation.

“I can only imagine what the parents are going through,” Obama told NBC's Al Roker, weighing in publicly for the first time on the kidnappings by terrorist group Boko Haram.

Earlier Tuesday, the Obama administration deployed military personnel, law enforcement officials and hostage negotiators to Nigeria after a phone call between Secretary of State John Kerry and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Boko Haram has threatened to sell the girls into slavery, drawing widespread international condemnation.

“You've got one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in Boko Haram in Nigeria, they've been killing people ruthlessly for many years now and we've already been seeking greater cooperation with the Nigerians - this may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that's perpetrated such a terrible crime,” Obama said in a separate interview with ABC News.

The president invited local and national meteorologists to the White House Tuesday to discuss a new federal report warning of the dangers of climate change. However, that study was largely overshadowed by the administration's response to the kidnappings.

The White House has cautioned, though, that it will not deploy troops to Nigeria and says the responsibility for tracking down the victims lies primarily with the Nigerian government.