Paris attacks: Hollande and Obama to intensify anti-IS push

Police at Los Angeles airport, 23 Nov 15 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police at Los Angeles airport: The US is tightening security with a worldwide alert

The fight against so-called Islamic State (IS) will dominate talks in Washington shortly as French President Francois Hollande meets US President Barack Obama.

The Paris suicide attacks claimed by IS have prompted the US to issue a worldwide travel alert to its citizens.

President Hollande is meeting other world leaders this week, hoping to forge a stronger alliance against IS.

But Turkey's downing of a Russian jet has fuelled tension over the Syria war.

As Turkey is a Nato member the incident has put a new strain on Russian-Western efforts to neutralise the IS threat in Syria and Iraq.

The US is unlikely to support French efforts to build a Russian-Western military alliance against IS, correspondents say. But there is some military co-ordination with Russia.

France is now sending warplanes from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, off the Syrian coast, to pound IS targets.

Hollande's diplomatic push

Monday: Met UK Prime Minister David Cameron in Paris

Tuesday: In Washington to meet US President Barack Obama

Wednesday: Meets German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris

Thursday: Goes to Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin

Sunday: Meets China's President Xi Jinping in Paris

Mr Hollande's search for allies

Russia has also stepped up air raids against anti-government rebels in Syria, since a Russian airliner was blown up over Egypt by suspected IS-linked militants last month.

But Western leaders have urged Russia to focus its raids on IS, not on other groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A suspected explosives belt was found in a dustbin in the Montrouge district

Meanwhile, French police are examining what appears to be a suicide bomb belt dumped on a Paris street following the 13 November attacks that killed 130 people.

It is said to resemble belts used by the attackers and was found in a suburb which a suspect is thought to have passed through after the attacks.

The key suspect, Salah Abdeslam, remains at large and a massive manhunt for him continues.

After the attacks he fled to Belgium, where he and some of the other jihadists were based.

German media reported that there may have been sightings of him in the northern state of North Rhine-Westphalia. but a police operation near the town of Espelkamp is now reportedly over with no arrests made.

The Belgian capital Brussels remains on high alert, with schools and the metro closed, on the fourth day of an unprecedented lockdown.

They are due to reopen on Wednesday, but the highest alert level will continue for at least another week.

Belgian prosecutors say five people have now been charged on suspicion of involvement with the Paris attacks and that a judge has issued a European and international arrest warrant for a man named as Mohamed Abrini, 30.

Two days before the attacks, Abrini was seen driving a car with Salah Abdeslam at a petrol station in Ressons on the motorway to Paris.

The Renault Clio was later used in the attacks, prosecutors say.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The extraordinary Brussels lockdown will be eased to some extent on Wednesday

How is Brussels affected by terror threat?

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In other developments on Tuesday:

  • Jawad Bendaoud, the man said to have provided accommodation in a Saint Denis apartment to three people killed in a police raid there last week, is brought before an anti-terrorism judge
  • French police swoop on the village of Arigat, hunting for preacher Olivier Corel, nicknamed the "White Emir", who is suspected of inspiring jihadists
  • France's Minister for the Family Laurence Rossignol encourages the families of children who lost a parent in the 13 November attacks to request the status of "ward of the nation", which could entitle the child to grants and subsidies for their education and early adult life
  • France's badly hit entertainment industry says it needs €50m (£35m; $53m) in aid to deal with the crisis
  • France says it will install security gates at the Paris and Lille train stations for the Thalys cross-Europe services by 20 December. The train was the subject of a foiled gun attack in August
  • The state funeral of 28-year-old Italian victim Valeria Solesin, who died in the arms of her boyfriend at the Bataclan, is held is Venice
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The coffin of Valeria Solesin, who died at the Bataclan, is carried through Venice's St Mark's Square