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Obama: COP21 will show world 'not afraid' of extremists

AFP / Fred Dufour | US President Barack Obama attends a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on November 22, 2015
3 min

US President Barack Obama said Sunday he would go ahead with a visit to Paris for a pivotal UN summit on climate change despite the recent attacks in the French capital, urging other leaders to do the same to show "we are not afraid" of extremists.


"I think it's absolutely vital for every country, every leader, to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business," Obama said following an Asia-Pacific summit in Malaysia.

In addition to hunting down terrorists, missile strikes, curbing jihadist financing and other steps, "the most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid", he said, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State (IS) group.

Over the past week Obama and other Asia-Pacific leaders have held successive summits in Turkey, the Philippines and Malaysia that have been overshadowed by the recent string of deadly extremist attacks.

The carnage in Paris, Lebanon and Mali has sparked calls by assembled leaders for a concerted international effort to stamp out the Islamic State and other jihad groups.

Obama is among world leaders due in Paris for the COP21 talks beginning November 30 and intended to reach a global climate change accord.

"We do not succumb to fear. That's the primary power that these terrorists have over us," he said.

France has decided to go ahead with hosting the talks despite the raised security threat following the November 13 attacks in Paris that saw 130 people killed in a wave of shootings and suicide bombings claimed by the IS group.

However, it has banned two demonstrations that had been planned by climate activists to coincide with the start and end of the talks.

Obama: US ‘will not relent’ in fight against IS group

In the wake of the Paris attacks, France has stepped up an air bombing campaign against IS group targets in Syria and urged greater international cooperation between the various nations also waging military campaigns against the Islamist group, which include the US and Russia.

Obama vowed Sunday that the United States and its international partners "will not relent" in the fight against the IS group, insisting the world would not accept the extremists' attacks on civilians in Paris and elsewhere as the "new normal”.

He also pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to align himself with the US-led coalition, noting that the IS group has claimed responsibility for bringing down a Russian passenger jet last month, killing 224 people.

"He needs to go after the people who killed Russia's citizens," Obama said of Putin.

Like France, Russia has stepped up its air campaign in Syria, but Obama said Moscow has focused its attention on moderate rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Russian ally. He called on Russia to make a "strategic adjustment" and drop its support for Assad, insisting the violence in Syria cannot be stopped as long as Assad is in office.

"It will not work to keep him in power," Obama said. "We can't stop the fighting."

French President François Hollande is due to meet with Obama at the White House on Tuesday to discuss ways to bolster the international coalition fighting the IS group.

Hollande then heads to Russia for talks with Putin.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

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