Thursday 22 August 2019

French President Francois Hollande to meet Putin for talks on how best to defeat IS

French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande
Russia's President Vladimir Putin

French president Francois Hollande is travelling to Moscow as part of his week-long push for a stronger coalition against Islamic State militants in Syria following the Paris attacks.

Mr Hollande's visit, which is expected later on Thursday, comes two days after he met with US president Barack Obama in Washington where both leaders vowed to escalate air strikes against IS and bolster intelligence sharing.

He comes to Moscow with intent to make progress on three priority issues: to prevent Syrian president Bashar Assad from targeting civilians, to focus the air strikes on IS militants - not the moderate Syrian opposition - and to make progress towards a process of political transition in Syria.

France will also seek to "avoid an escalation" between Russia and Turkey following the downing of a Russian warplane earlier this week.

In advance of Mr Hollande's meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, France sought to dismiss concerns that it might soften its stance on international sanctions against Russia over Ukraine in exchange for Russia's co-operation in the fight against Islamic State.

Gerard Araud, the French ambassador to the US, tweeted on Tuesday evening that "Hollande has confirmed the sanctions will be maintained as long as the Minsk agreements are not implemented".

Following his meeting with the French president, Mr Obama said Russian co-operation in the fight against Islamic State would be "enormously helpful".

Both Mr Obama and Mr Hollande insisted that a political transition in Syria must lead to Mr Assad's departure.

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