MOSCOW France and Russia will exchange intelligence on Islamic State and other rebel groups to enhance the effectiveness of their aerial bombing campaigns in Syria, French President Francois Hollande mentioned on Thursday following talks with Vladimir Putin.
Nevertheless, the two men remained at odds more than the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russia whom Western and Sunni Arab countries blame for Syria’s practically 5-year civil war and want removed from power.
Speaking following a working dinner in the Kremlin with Putin, Hollande stated they had agreed to target only Islamic State and comparable jihadi groups in Syria. The West has accused Moscow of targeting mostly Western-backed rebel groups fighting Assad.
“What we agreed, and this is important, is to strike only terrorists and Daesh (Islamic State) and to not strike forces that are fighting terrorism. We will exchange details about whom to hit and whom not to hit,” Hollande told a joint news conference with Putin.
France will also increase its support to rebel groups battling Islamic State on the ground in Syria, Hollande added.
Hollande is on a diplomatic offensive to create a typical front against the militant Islamist group that has claimed duty for the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 men and women.
Islamic State has also mentioned it downed a Russian plane on Oct. 31 more than the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, killing all 224 folks on board.
Putin stated Moscow was ready to unite with Paris against a “mutual enemy”, but he reaffirmed Moscow’s lengthy-standing view that Assad and the Syrian government have been also allies in the fight against terrorism.
“I believe that the fate of the president of Syria need to stay in the hands of the Syrian people,” Putin stated, in stark contrast to Hollande, who insisted Assad could play no future political function in the country.
TARGET OIL SUPPLIES
French officials say Putin and Hollande have a excellent functioning connection, but in an initial televised exchange prior to dinner the two men had appeared uncomfortable and avoided eye get in touch with.
Both Russia and France have stepped up their aerial bombing campaigns in Syria considering that the attacks in Paris.
On Thursday each Putin and Hollande stressed the need to have to step up air strikes against automobiles transporting oil across territory controlled by Islamic State and thereby deliver a blow to a essential supply of financing for the militant group.
Putin employed the opportunity of the joint news conference with Hollande to repeat his accusations against Turkey of turning a blind eye to oil smuggling by Islamic State. He stated it was “theoretically achievable” that Ankara was unaware of oil supplies getting into its territory from Islamic State-controlled regions of Syria but added that this was challenging to imagine.
Relations among Russia and NATO member Turkey have deteriorated sharply considering that Turkish forces downed a Russian warplane on Tuesday and Moscow has warned of “severe consequences” for economic ties.
Hollande said the downing of the Russian jet highlighted the require for countries to coordinate their military activities more closely to avoid a attainable repetition of what he referred to as a “regrettable incident”. He again named for a “de-escalation” of the tensions between Moscow and Ankara.
Putin also mentioned Russia would preserve cooperating with the United States and its partners to fight Islamic State in Syria, but that cooperation will be in jeopardy if there are any repeats of the shooting down of the jet.
“We are prepared to cooperate with the coalition which is led by the United States. But of course incidents like the destruction of our aircraft and the deaths of our servicemen… are completely unacceptable,” Putin stated.
(Further reporting by John Irish in Paris and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow Writing by Gareth Jones Editing by Andrew Heavens)