President Obama concluded his formal remarks at a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday by saying that next week's Global Climate Conference in Paris will be a “powerful rebuke” to terrorists such as the Islamic State.
Appearing together in the White House East Room, Obama and Hollande each made a statement on the current state of the effort to counter the Islamic State before taking questions from the press.
After expressing solidarity with France in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris carried out by Islamic State and discussing more broadly the campaign against the jihadist group, Obama stated, “And next week, I will be joining President Hollande and world leaders in Paris for the Global Climate Conference. What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children.”
Hollande is visiting Washington this week to seek a greater commitment from the United States in fighting Islamic State as the French president has taken far more aggressive military actions in Iraq and Syria since the Paris attacks, including the deployment of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the region and increased airstrikes.
Many people in the U.S.—both Democrats and Republicans—as well as allies abroad, feel that Obama is not doing enough to counter the terror group and address the civil war in Syria while the president has argued that his strategy is working in pushing back the jihadist group but will take time.
Critics of the president's IS policies also cite the contrast in words between the two leaders beyond their actions, pointing out that Obama referred to the attacks in Paris as a “setback” while Hollande called the deadly assaults “an act of war.”
The U.S. said it would “step up” its coordination with France by providing more intelligence and additional airlift. Moreover, Obama called on the European Union to implement a policy to allow airlines to share passenger information. There were no significant changes in strategy, however.
Hollande met with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, who pledged to ask and fight in parliament to approve military action in Syria, and the French president is scheduled to travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after leaving Washington. France has coordinated military action with Russia in recent days, and some analysts believe the French leader will leverage potential cooperation with Russia to get the U.S. to become more involved in the fight against Islamic State.
Russia has formed an alliance of sorts with Iran and its Lebanon-based terror proxy Hezbollah primarily meant to prop up the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who the United States believes must ultimately be removed from power as part of a political transition in Syria.
President Obama has said he is happy to work with Russia on fighting Islamic State, but as long as Moscow is committed to preserving Assad, any potential arrangement between the two cannot work.