After meeting U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington Tuesday, French President François Hollande is set to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris on Wednesday. The meeting comes as part of Hollande’s agenda of establishing a “grand and single coalition” against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.
Hollande plans to meet with world leaders to coordinate a response over the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and injured hundreds others. He is scheduled to meet with Italy’s prime minister on Thursday, also in Paris, before heading off to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The French president’s meeting with Obama Tuesday focused not just on the war against ISIS but also Russia's sympathies with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. could work with Russia in Syria to combat ISIS if Moscow shifted its focus to wiping out the militant group instead of helping the Syrian government stay in power.
"Hollande needs to try to create a reasonably coherent coalition to fight ISIS, and even though the U.S. and Russia are stuck on the Assad issue," Nina Khrushcheva, dean of the New School's Milano School of International Affairs, according to NBC News. "I imagine Hollande hopes to convince the two to partner with France even if they can't partner with each other."
Khrushcheva also reportedly said that Hollande's meeting with Merkel could prove beneficial as the German chancellor could potentially influence Putin's position on Assad.
Hollande reportedly said that he would tell Putin that “France can work with Russia, if Russia concentrates the military action on Daesh,” using an acronym for ISIS.
Russia has signaled that it is willing to work more closely with France in the campaign against ISIS. Last week, Putin ordered Russian naval forces to work with French warships “as allies” in an offensive against ISIS. The attacks on ISIS strongholds came in response to the group’s well coordinated shootings and suicide bombings in Paris.
However, concerns grew over future cooperation after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane for allegedly violating Turkish airspace while flying over Syrian territory.
During his meeting with Obama, Hollande said that the border between Syria and Turkey, a popular route for ISIS fighters, needs to be closed.