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Homeland Security

Hollande, Obama to Focus on Islamic State and Syria

by VOA News November 23, 2015

French President Francois Hollande will meet Tuesday with U.S. President Barack Obama as part of a multi-nation tour seeking to spur action against Islamic State militants and push for a political settlement to Syria's civil war.

The White House said the two leaders will discuss 'further cooperation' as part of the U.S.-led coalition that has been conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria for more than a year.

French warplanes have been part of that effort, and officials told Reuters the desire for greater action does not include expanding the operation to include ground troops into Syria. Hollande said Monday his military will 'intensify' its Syria strikes.

France sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution passed last week that urges all able countries to work to 'prevent and suppress terrorist acts' by Islamic State and other groups, and to 'eradicate the safe haven' they have carved out in eastern Syria and northern and western sections of Iraq.

The measure, which condemns Islamic State attacks this year in France, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon, says the militants represent a 'global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security.'

Before leaving France for his meeting with Obama, Hollande on Monday hosted British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he plans to ask his parliament this week to approve expanding Britain's involvement in the U.S.-led coalition to include airstrikes in Syria. Cameron also called for European nations to boost intelligence sharing.

Germany is part of the coalition, but is not among those conducting airstrikes. Hollande meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday before traveling to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has been bombing in Syria for nearly two months, but its campaign has faced criticism from Western governments that say the strikes have focused on rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and not the Islamic State group.

Obama said Sunday that it would be helpful if Russia shifted to targeting the militants, and that he thinks the bombing of a Russian plane in Egypt is leading to an increasing awareness on Putin's part that the Islamic State group is Russia's biggest threat in the Middle East.

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