Putin to Hollande: Russia ready to cooperate against ‘common evil’
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Putin to Hollande: Russia ready to cooperate against ‘common evil’

French president visits Moscow on last leg of diplomatic push to crush Islamic State that yielded mixed results

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes French President Francois Hollande before a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on November 26, 2015. (AFP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes French President Francois Hollande before a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on November 26, 2015. (AFP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

AP — Russia vowed Thursday to cooperate in the fight against terrorism as French President Francois Hollande began the last leg of a diplomatic bid to step up efforts to crush the Islamic State group.

Sitting down to talks with Hollande at the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed to the November 13 assaults in Paris which 130 people were killed, and the IS-claimed bombing of a Russian jetliner over Egypt on October 31, with the loss of all 224 people on board.

These “make us unite our efforts against the common evil,” Putin said. “We are ready for this cooperation.”

Hollande, pitching a message he had taken to other major capitals with varying degrees of success, said, “We have to form this large coalition together to strike against terrorism.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with French President Francois Hollande (L) on November 26, 2015 at the Kremlin in Moscow. (Stephane de Sakutin/AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with French President Francois Hollande (L) at the Kremlin in Moscow on November 26, 2015. (AFP/Stephane de Sakutin)

Moscow was the last stage of a whirlwind campaign by Hollande to intensify efforts to crush IS in Iraq and Syria.

He notably gained the support of Britain, whose prime minister David Cameron made his case Thursday for air strikes against IS in Syria, telling MPs that the country could not “sub-contract” defense of the nation.

Cameron said Britain should not “wait until an attack takes place here” before acting, saying it was “morally” unacceptable to be “content with outsourcing our security to our allies.”

A vote is expected to be held early next week and parliamentarians look set to approve the move, meaning the first British air strikes on Syria could come within days.

Cameron has also offered France the use of a British air base in Cyprus for flying missions against the jihadists.

Berlin also plans to send Tornado reconnaissance jets to support the fight against IS, the defense spokesman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives said Thursday.

“Germany will play a more active role than before,” said Henning Otte in a statement.

In contrast, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in talks with Hollande in Paris, offered only vague support for “a coalition of greater and greater strength” able to destroy IS.

France last week invoked a clause requiring EU member states to provide military assistance after the Paris attacks.

Hollande also received what is perceived to be a cool response from President Barack Obama when he flew to Washington on Tuesday, with the US reluctant to intensify military action in Syria without a clear strategy or political track in place.

In Moscow, the French leader faces huge obstacles in bridging deep differences between Russia — which is bombing targets in Syria at the request of President Bashar Assad — and a US-led coalition that is already targeting the IS jihadists.

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