ANTALYA:President Obama opened two days of talks with world leaders here Sunday by vowing to help France in “hunting down the perpetrators” of the terrorist attacks in Paris, amid questions about how the United States and its allies will respond to the mass killings carried out by the Islamic State.Shortly after arriving, Obama met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erogan, who is hosting the Group of 20 Summit here, and they presented a united front in a brief appearance before reporters after a discussion that lasted more than an hour.“The skies have been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in Paris,” Obama said. Referring to a twin-bombing attack in Ankara, Turkey, last month that killed more than 100 people, he added that “the killing of innocent people based on a twisted ideology is not just an attack on France, not just an attack on Ankara, but an attack on the civilized world. . . .We stand in solidarity with them in hunting down the perpetrators of this crime and bringing them to justice.”The highly coordinated assaults on several locations in Paris on Friday evening, which intelligence officials said was carried out by three teams of terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State, has shaken the gathering of global leaders here. They were already planning to discuss strategies to combat the Islamic militant group whose brutal campaign in Syria and Iraq has further destabilized the turbulent region.
But the attacks in the French capital that killed 129 and injured more than 350 could potentially change the calculus for French leaders and increase pressure on the Obama administration to ensure the Islamic State cannot attack Western targets beyond the battlefield in the Middle East.In his remarks, Obama referred several times to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as “Daesh,” a derogatory term for the group that has horrified the international community with its tactics of terror, that have included beheadings and suicide bombings. Secretary of State John F. Kerry also has begun using the term.“We will redouble our efforts to work with other members of the coalition to bring about a peaceful [political] transition in Syria and eliminate Daesh as a force that has created so much pain and suffering for the people of Paris, Ankara and other parts of the globe,” Obama said.
Erdogan said leaders at the G20 gathering will take a strong “firm stance” against terrorism and issue a strong statement.“We are confronted with a collective terrorism activity around the world,” he said.Obama authorized expanded U.S. airstrikes into Syria last year to degrade the Islamic State, but he has been cautious about sending U.S. troops onto the battlefield. But efforts to train and equip moderate Syrian rebel forces to fight the Islamic State have largely failed, and Obama announced the deployment of 50 U.S. Special Forces to Syria in an advisory role.Aides said the president had added a bilateral meeting with Saudi King Salman to his schedule Sunday afternoon, part of Obama’s effort to broker a negotiated settlement that would remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power and end the country’s civil war.French President François Hollande, who had been scheduled to attend the summit, canceled his trip to remain in Paris and attend to the investigation and recovery from the carnage. He has called the attacks “an act of war,” and vowed to lead a “merciless” response to the perpetrators.
White House officials said Obama met with his National Security Council before leaving Washington on Saturday for the nine-hour flight to this resort town in southern Turkey. He was briefed on the latest intelligence about the attacks and on security precautions at U.S. embassies in Paris and other European cities, aides said.Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to Obama, was scheduled to appear on Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the administration’s strategy in Syria.