French president to meet all permanent Security Council members
PRESIDENT Francois Hollande of France received strong backing from British Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday 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 was his firm conviction that Britain should do so too.
He will make his case to parliament in the coming days to join the 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.
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.
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.
Today he will fly to Washington for talks with President Barack Obama and a day later will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris.
On Thursday, in Moscow, 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 al-Qaeda-linked groups.
Hollande said he hoped the resolution would “help mobilise nations to eliminate Daesh”, another name for IS.
The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was steaming to the eastern Mediterranean yesterday to facilitate bombing sorties over Syria.
A US-led coalition has been pounding IS targets in Syria for over a year, but France only joined 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 US for bombing rebel groups opposed to Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Yesterday, Putin arrived in Tehran 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 since 224 mainly Russian airline passengers died due to an IS bomb, Moscow appears more willing to put aside its differences with Paris to take on 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.