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Hollande Goes to White House Seeking Cooperation Against Militants

After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS
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French President Francois Hollande's push to get world powers to work more closely together to fight Islamic State militants comes to Washington Tuesday as he meets with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Hollande hosted British Prime Minister David Cameron Monday, and will hold separate talks later this week with the leaders of Russia, China, Germany and Italy.

The White House said Obama and Hollande 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.

Spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday welcomed an expansion of strikes by France and said the U.S. believes "there is more that can be done if countries are willing to contribute additional resources."

He said the United States has so far been contributing the most in terms of humanitarian assistance and in the military effort, but that the country has some unique capabilities and is glad to do so.

Cameron offered France new assistance Monday for its airstrikes against Islamic State insurgents in Syria and said he would ask the British parliament later in the week for approval to join the fight against the jihadists.

He told Hollande that French jet fighters could use a British airbase in Cyprus to launch their attacks on Islamic State targets and also offered air-to-air refueling services.

"I firmly support the action that President Hollande has taken to strike ISIL in Syria and it is my firm conviction that Britain should do so, too," Cameron said, using an acronym for Islamic State. Britain is already bombing Islamic State positions in Iraq.

French President Francois Hollande (R) shakes hands with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron during a joint news conference, Nov. 23, 2015.
French President Francois Hollande (R) shakes hands with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron during a joint news conference, Nov. 23, 2015.

France is intensifying its attacks on Islamic State targets in Syria in the aftermath of the deadly Paris attacks that killed at least 130 people and wounded more than 300 others. Paris moved its sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, into position in the Mediterranean on Monday and could use the Cyprus base as an alternate launch base.

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."

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. In recent days, however, since Russia concluded that terrorists downed a Russian passenger jet last month over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Moscow has bombed Raqqa, the self-proclaimed Islamic State capital in northern Syria.

Obama said Sunday that he thinks the bombing of the Russian plane is leading to an increasing awareness on Putin's part that the Islamic State group is Russia's biggest threat in the Middle East.