President Obama will meet with President François Hollande of France on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing effort to defeat ISIS, the terror network claiming responsibility for the recent attacks in Paris.
Obama has repeatedly denounced the attacks in Paris that killed over 129 people and left hundreds wounded and he’s expected to do so again on Tuesday during a sit down with Hollande. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday one of the President’s key objectives on Tuesday will be to show the nation’s solidarity with the French people.
“This is a time when the French people are grieving,” Earnest told reporters. “Knowing that they can count on the most powerful country in the world to have their back as they determine what’s necessary to strengthen homeland security in their own country but also to take the fight to ISIL I think that will be a source of significant comfort to the French people.”
Yet Hollande’s forceful anti-ISIS rhetoric in the wake of the attacks could mean he’s looking to take away more than just a show of support from Tuesday’s meeting.
Hollande flat-out declared war against the terror organization and the French have already ramped up airstrikes against ISIS strongholds in Syria. The French president is also working to use the political momentum he’s gained in the wake of the Paris attacks to bring more world leaders on board with his plan to defeat ISIS.
The meeting with Obama follows a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron and comes ahead of meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia has also been expressing its solidarity with the French in their anti-ISIS efforts, launching airstrikes and condemning the attack in Paris.
But though Putin’s end goal is ultimately destroying ISIS, his approach to doing so gives the Obama administration pause given Russia’s ties to the Syrian leader.
Earnest said Monday if Russia were to commit “to the kind of counter-ISIL-focused military effort that our [65 member] coalition is carrying out” the U.S. would be happy to engage with them in countering extremists in the region. He also stressed the U.S.’s ongoing support for its allies, including France, in existing counter-terrorism activities.
The U.S. has provided both intelligence and operational support during the recent French air assault and is glad to lead and support allies in the region as they carry out attacks against the group. But the Press Secretary shied away from announcing anything ahead of the meeting.
The attacks in Paris have also brought new attention to the ongoing effort to defeat the terrorist network ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the attack in Paris and subsequent attacks in Mali and Beirut over the past week. During a press conference in Malaysia on Sunday Obama said the U.S. “ will destroy” the terror group.
“Destroying ISIL is not only a realistic goal, we’re going to get it done, and we’re going to pursue it with every aspect of American power and with all the coalition partners that we’ve assembled,” he said. “It’s going to get done.”
Yet, the attack in Paris has led many to question the U.S.’s current strategy in the Middle East, especially as the terror group continues to gain ground in Iraq and Syria. Adding fuel to the fire, the attacks have also stoked fears around the acceptance of Syrians fleeing turmoil in their country.
The U.S. has pledged to take in 10,000 over the next year, but many lawmakers in Congress—and Republican presidential candidates–have suggested the U.S. reconsider its approach to Syrian refugees. The topic is sure to come up during Tuesday’s meeting, given that France has agreed to take in 30,000 refugees from Syria.