Obama-Hollande urge Russia to co-operate on ISIS
United States President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande opened talks on Tuesday on the international campaign against ISIS.
The French president’s trip to Washington is an effort to get the United States and other nations more interested in bolstering efforts to destroy the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the multiple attacks on the French capitals.
Obama told Hollande on Tuesday that the United States stands in “total solidarity” with France, however he did not announce any major shifts in strategy following the deadly attacks on Paris that left 130 people dead. He said that the US would “step up” its coordination through additional airlift and intelligence sharing. He also called for the EU to implement a data sharing program for airline passengers.
The meeting was the first to take place since the attacks on Paris, however the private meeting and the news conference showed more symbolism and less substance.
Hollande had hoped that the attack on Paris would prompt the United States and Russia to work together in obliterating ISIS, however there was no such pledge. If anything, the Turkish downing of the Russian jet made things worse. Both Obama and Hollande urged Turkey and Russia to avoid escalating the crisis. “Turkey, like every country, has the right to defend its territory and its airspace,” said Obama. “It’s very important right now to make sure both the Russians and the Turks are talking to each other.”
On his part, Hollande said the conflict showed that the four-year civil war in Syria must end. He said that Syrians would not accept a cease-fire with Syrian President bashar Assad in office. He said France will work towards the improvement of intelligence sharing and hopes to work in creating a new political transition in Syria amid a growing threat from ISIS.
Regarding the strategy on ISIS, Obama made it clear that he doesn’t intend to escalate tension. “What happened in Paris is truly horrific. I understand that people are worried that something similar could happen here,” said Obama. “Even as we are vigilant, we cannot and will not succumb to fear…We cannot give them the victory of changing how we go about our lives.”
Obama also said he could work with Russia in Syria to combat ISIS if Moscow shifted its focus to wiping out ISIS instead of helping the Syrian government stay in power.
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