French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday urged Germany to do more in the fight against Islamic State jihadists after he held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel following the Paris attacks.
Hollande met his closest EU partner during a week of intense but so far faltering efforts by France to build a coalition to crush IS in its fiefdom in Iraq and Syria.
Hollande said he hoped Germany “can do even more in the fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq”, using another term for IS, which claimed responsibility for the carnage in the French capital.
Merkel said in response she would act “swiftly” to see how Germany could take up “additional responsibilities” to assist in the fight against terror.
“We will be stronger than the terror,” she said.
In one step in that effort, Germany said Wednesday it would send 650 soldiers to Mali to provide some relief to French forces battling jihadists in the west African nation.
Earlier, Merkel and Hollande each laid a pink rose on the growing pile of tributes in Place de la Republique, the Paris square that has become a rallying point after the shootings and bombings that killed 130 people on November 13.
Having received few firm commitments from President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday, Hollande will take his plea for a counter-IS alliance to President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday.
– ‘Annihilate IS’ –
Hollande and Merkel said they hoped tensions would calm between Russia and Turkey — two potential components of the anti-IS alliance — which fell out over the downing of a Russian warplane at the Turkish-Syrian border.
One of the Russian pilots insisted Wednesday that the Turks gave no prior warning before launching the missile which brought down the plane on the Syrian border on Tuesday.
Russia accused Turkey of a “planned provocation”, but pledged it would not go to war over the issue.
The French parliament meanwhile gave overwhelming support for French air strikes on IS targets in Iraq and Syria to continue.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls told lawmakers: “There is no alternative, we must annihilate Daesh.”
French jets are taking off from its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean to bomb the jihadists.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said all 27 of France’s EU partners would help France’s efforts to strike at IS in some way.
British leader David Cameron will on Thursday set out the case for his country to join air strikes, but he requires parliamentary approval.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov threw his weight behind the French president’s proposal to close off the Syria-Turkey border to prevent the flow of jihadist fighters crossing the frontier. The border is considered the main crossing point for foreign fighters seeking to join IS.
“I think this is a good proposal and tomorrow President Hollande will talk to us in greater detail about it. We would be ready to seriously consider the necessary measures for this,” Lavrov said in Moscow.
While Hollande is trying to persuade the US and Russia to work more closely together to strike at the jihadists, Obama was cool on the idea on Tuesday.
The US president said the problem Washington faced was “Russia’s focus on propping up (Syrian President) Assad rather than focusing on ISIL”, using another acronym for IS.
As France prepared for a national day of mourning for its dead on Friday, Obama sought to reassure Americans traveling home for Thanksgiving that they face no credible and immediate terror threat and that his government was “taking every possible step to keep our homeland safe”.