Obama Vows To 'Redouble' Fight Against ISIS, Urges Russia To Join Effort
13 November 2015
By Matt Spetalnick
and Dasha Afanasieva
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Sunday to step up efforts to eliminate
Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and prevent more attacks like those in
Paris, while urging Russia's Vladimir Putin to focus on combating the
jihadist group in Syria.
A White House official said Obama and Putin agreed during a 35-minute meeting
on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Turkey on the need for a political
transition in Syria, saying events in Paris had made it all the more urgent.
The two-day summit brings Obama and fellow world leaders just 500 kilometers
from Syria, whose 4-1/2-year conflict has transformed ISIS into a global
security threat and spawned Europe's largest migration flows since World War
Obama described Friday's killing of more than 120 people in Paris, claimed by
the radical Sunni militant group, as an attack on the civilized world and
said the United States would work with France to hunt down those responsible.
''The skies have been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in
Paris just a day and a half ago,'' Obama said.
''We will redouble our efforts, working with other members of the coalition,
to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate Daesh as a
force that can create so much pain and suffering for people in Paris, in
Ankara, and in other parts of the globe,'' he said, using the Arabic acronym
for Islamic State.
U.S.-led efforts to combat Islamic State were complicated when Russia joined
the conflict a month and a half ago, targeting what the West says are mainly
areas where foreign-backed fighters are battling Assad, Moscow's ally, rather
The United States, Turkey and their allies want Assad out.
Obama huddled with Putin during a working lunch and the two agreed on the
need for a Syrian-led transition including U.N.-mediated talks, the White
House official said.
Putin and Obama talked ''extensively'', Russian news agencies cited top
Kremlin foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov as saying.
''Strategic objectives relating to the fight against the Islamic State are,
in principle, very similar, but there are differences on the tactics side,''
Their meeting builds on progress in Vienna, where foreign ministers on
Saturday outlined a plan for a political process in Syria leading to
elections within two years, although differences over Assad's role remain.
The Paris attacks again demonstrated how ISIS poses a threat far beyond its
strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
Washington already expects France to retaliate by taking on a larger role in
the U.S.-led coalition's bombing campaign against ISIS.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the renewed sense of
urgency to find a solution to the war in Syria after the Paris attacks,
adding the world had a ''rare moment'' of diplomatic opportunity to end the
Obama wants to coax other European and Middle Eastern countries into more
tangible steps to show their military commitment. He met Saudi Arabia's King
Salman, discussing the need to support the moderate Syrian opposition and the
Iraqi government in the fight against ISIS.
Obama said he also discussed in a meeting with Turkish President Tayyip
Erdogan coordinating efforts to fortify the border with Syria, which ISIS has
used to smuggle supplies and foreign fighters.
The coordinated attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris on Friday put
Obama and other leaders of the world's major economies under increased
pressure to find common cause.
It remains to be seen, however, whether Washington itself has an appetite for
much deeper involvement after already stepping up air strikes and committing
small numbers of special operations troops to northern Syria to advise
opposition forces in the fight against ISIS.
The Paris carnage, in which 129 people were killed in attacks on a concert
hall, restaurants, bars and a sports stadium, also poses a major challenge
for Europe, with populist leaders rushing to demand an end to an influx of
refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa.
In a diplomatic coup for Europe and for Turkey, the G20 leaders will agree
that migration is a global problem that must be addressed in a coordinated
way, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters, although it has yet to
be accepted by all and is due to be published on Monday.
Europe and Turkey, the most heavily hit by the crisis, had been pushing for
the G20 to recognize the issue as a global problem and help to deal with it
financially, despite opposition from China, India and Russia. A million
migrants from the Middle East and Africa are expected to come to Europe this
According to a separate draft statement, they also agreed to step up border
controls and aviation security in the wake of the Paris attacks, which they
condemned as ''heinous.