Hollande to meet Obama on Russian cooperation against DAESH

French President Francois Hollande wants more cooperation from US and Russia in fighting DAESH after Paris attack

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

France's President Francois Hollande speaking during a news conference.

US President Barack Obama will meet with his French counterpart President Francois Hollande at the White House on Tuesday, 11 days after a series of deadly attacks in Paris which was claimed by DAESH.

The two are to discuss how to strengthen international coalition against the terrorist group but, Hollande is likely to leave Washington without a firm support for his message to bring Russia into a new coalition to fight against DAESH.

The terrorist group claimed to have been behind the Nov. 13 attacks that killed at least 129 people in Paris, as well as separate attacks in Beirut and the downing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

As DAESH expands its reach outside its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, Obama is facing increased pressure at home and abroad to bolster US efforts to stop the terrorists once and for all.

So far, Obama is opposing calls to either change or significantly bolster his approach, and instead is focused on getting other countries to provide more counterintelligence, humanitarian and military help.

"The United States is certainly pulling more than our own weight," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "And we believe that there is more that can be done if countries are willing to contribute additional resources."

US campaign has focused largely on launching air strikes, also training and assisting security forces on the ground in Iraq.

Efforts to equip moderate rebel groups in Syria have failed however, President Obama last month authorized the deployment of 50 special operations forces to continue the program.

France on the other hand has increased its air strikes after the Paris attacks, collaborating with US intelligence to hit DAESH targets in Raqqa. British Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier on Monday that he would seek parliamentary permission this week to begin air strikes as well.

Hollande stated that the US-led coalition needs to begin cooperating with Russia, which is also carrying out air strikes in Syria.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin claims his country is targeting DAESH, the US contends Moscow is targeting rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Kremlin ally.

Last week, Hollande urged the US and Russia to design a decisive policy over Syria and "fight this terrorist army in a broad, single coalition." His office acknowledges that "coordination" sounds like a far more realistic agenda.

On Monday a French diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said "We are not talking about a command center. We are talking about coordination of methods and exchange of intelligence." 

White House spokesmen Earnest said the US would "continue the conversation" with Putin but suggested Obama would make no promises to Hollande during their meeting.

From Washington, President Hollande will also travel to Moscow for meetings with Putin.

Apart from their discussions on military cooperation, Obama and Hollande are expected to discuss diplomatic efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria. The US and France support a political transition that would result to the departure of Assad, who has allowed civil war in his country that created a vacuum for DAESH to thrive.

While Russia supports a new diplomatic effort in Syria, it still refuses to back steps that completely call for removal of Assad from power.

The war in Syria has continued for nearly five years, and criticism of Obama's strategy appears to be intense.

On Sunday, both Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Leon Panetta, Obama's former defense secretary, said the US effort wasn't sufficient. Feinstein called for more aggressive action and deployment of additional special operations forces in Syria.  

"I don't think the approach is sufficient to the job," Feinstein said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

TRTWorld and agencies