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Obama, Hollande boost cooperation on terror fight

President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande announced Tuesday they will step up coordination on fighting the so-called Islamic State as well as increase information sharing on potential terror threats.

After talks at the White House, they pledged to broaden the scale of airstrikes on the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, as well as target its financial networks. Obama also called on the European Union to share airline passenger information so the U.S. could assess incoming travelers.

The discussions came in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, for which ISIS claimed responsibility. Obama cited the urgent need to defeat the group, calling its ideology "madness" and "a scourge that threatens all of us."

"The United States and France stand united, in total solidarity, to deliver justice to these terrorists ... and to defend our nations," he said.

Obama has received criticism from some Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates for not taking effective action to defeat ISIS. In a statement, he did not comment on sending ground troops, but has previously opposed doing so.

Hollande said France would not send ground troops even as he stressed its intent to ramp up airstrikes.

"We want to share our relentless determination to fight terrorism everywhere and anywhere," Hollande said through a translator.

President Obama shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP
President Obama shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2015.

Discussion was further complicated Tuesday by a Turkish jet shooting down a Russian warplane. Obama noted that Turkey had a right to defend its territory, but also urged the NATO ally and Russia not to let tensions escalate.

Russia's strategy in the Middle East has served as a point of contention. Obama and Hollande criticized Russia for its attacks on an array of rebel groups seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad rather than take action only against ISIS..

Hollande contended Assad's transition from power should come "as soon as possible."

Both leaders also addressed the refugee crisis created by the Syrian civil war and ISIS' rise. Obama decried efforts by legislators and state officials to block U.S. plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, saying the U.S. risked abandoning its principles.

Since the Paris attacks, France has not changed its plans to accept 30,000 refugees in the next two years.