WASHINGTON: After a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the White House on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said he could work with Russia in Syria to combat the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
But to get US support for its operations, Moscow needs to shift its focus to wiping out IS instead of helping the Syrian government stay in power, he added.
President Obama also declared that the United States and France “stand united” in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
US declares support to France in its fight against militants
He acknowledged that after the attacks earlier this month, there were fears that this could be replicated in the US and vowed to keep his nation safe.
“What happened in Paris is truly horrific. I understand that people are worried that something similar could happen here,” Mr Obama said. “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.”
In France’s fight against terrorists, “we stand by our friends in good times and bad, no matter what,” Mr Obama said.
The IS posed a “serious threat to all of us,” he declared. “It cannot be tolerated. It must be destroyed. And we must do it together.”
President Hollande arrived in Washington earlier on Tuesday as part of a world-wide tour to generate support for France’s war against extremists. He expects the United States to play a major role in this war.
But Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane has created problems for both France and the United States.
France wants the United States to support Russia’s military actions in Syria, but a conflict with Turkey would make it difficult for Washington to support Moscow. Turkey is a Nato member, like the US and France, and the agreement requires both to support Turkey against Russia.