Hollande, Cameron kick off bid to rally global support against IS

23rd November 2015, Comments 0 comments

President Francois Hollande received strong backing from British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday as global efforts to crush Islamic State gathered speed in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Speaking before he also meets the US, Russian and German leaders in the coming days, Hollande said Britain and France had a "joint obligation" to strike at the jihadist group.

Cameron had earlier laid a wreath at the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were killed on November 13.

"I firmly support the action President Hollande has taken to strike ISIL in Syria," Cameron said after talks in Paris, using another acronym for IS.

"It's my firm conviction that Britain should do so too," he added.

Cameron has said he will make his case to the British parliament in the coming days about joining air strikes on Syria.

While Britain has joined US-led coalition strikes on IS in Iraq, it has so far held back from hitting targets in Syria, where the jihadists also hold large swaths of territory.

The British leader also said he had offered France the use of a strategically located British airbase in Cyprus, RAF Akrotiri, to facilitate air strikes, and assistance with refuelling French jets.

- Putin in Tehran -

Hollande, who has said France is in a "war" against the jihadists, is embarking on what could be a defining week of his three-year-old presidency.

On Tuesday, he will fly to Washington for talks with President Barack Obama and a day later will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris.

The focus switches to Moscow on Thursday where he will meet President Vladimir Putin, who has pledged to work more closely with the West against IS following the Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt last month.

Completing a series of meetings with each of France's fellow UN Security Council members, Hollande will see Chinese President Xi Jinping for a working dinner in the French capital on Sunday.

The Security Council on Friday authorised countries to "take all necessary measures" to fight IS in a resolution that won unanimous backing in the wake of the bloodshed in Paris.

The measure drafted by France calls on all UN member states to "redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks" committed by IS and other extremist groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

Hollande said he hoped the resolution would "help mobilise nations to eliminate Daesh", using an alternative name for IS.

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was steaming to the eastern Mediterranean on Monday to increase France's ability to fly bombing sorties over Syria.

The US-led coalition has been pounding IS targets in Syria for over a year, but France only joined the campaign in September and has concentrated its air strikes on the jihadists' de facto capital, Raqa.

Russia has also bombed IS targets but Moscow has attracted criticism from the United States and others for bombing rebel groups opposed to Moscow's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a key development Monday, Putin arrived in Tehran Monday for his first trip to Iran in eight years.

Iran has been Assad's other main backer since an uprising broke out against his rule in 2011 and escalated into a brutal civil war.

But Moscow's recognition that an airliner that crashed over Egypt with the deaths of 224 mainly Russians on board was brought down by an IS bomb appears to have strengthened Moscow's resolve to put aside differences with Paris and work together against the jihadists.

US Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile arrived in Abu Dhabi to speak to his Emirati counterparts on efforts to build a Syrian opposition coalition to lead peace talks with the Damascus regime.

Kerry said last week he believed a breakthrough in efforts to find peace in Syria was imminent.

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© 2015 AFP

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