Putin tells Hollande 'ready for cooperation' in terrorism fight

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Moscow, Nov 27: Russia vowed on 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 onboard.

Vladimir Putin meets Francois Hollande

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."

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, set out his case today for air strikes against IS in Syria, telling lawmakers that his country could not "sub-contract" its security to allies.

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 MPs 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.

In Berlin, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen today said Germany could offer France Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate, satellite images and aerial refuelling to back the fight against IS.

"France was struck to the bone by the horrific attacks by the IS but we know that this inhumane rage can hit us or other societies at any time too," Von der Leyen said.

She announced yesterday Germany would send 650 soldiers to Mali to provide some relief to French forces fighting jihadists there.

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.

PTI

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