World leaders seek front to crush ISIS, ensure security post-Paris

Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies gathering at the G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, on Nov 15, 2015. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

ANTALYA, Turkey (AFP) - World leaders on Monday (Nov 16) sought to join forces to bring peace to Syria and destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) network, hoping to curb the extremist menace after the Paris attacks.

Leaders of the Group of 20 top economies meeting in Turkey will describe the Paris gun and bombing strikes as an "unacceptable affront to all humanity", according to a draft statement obtained by AFP.

Concretely, they will share intelligence to crack down on the movement of foreign fighters across borders, said the communique, which is subject to final approval by the leaders.

Western leaders sought in particular to narrow important differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin on bringing peace to Syria and fighting ISIS extremists.

The urgent need to coordinate action on Syria after the Paris attacks that killed 129 people and were claimed by ISIS reshaped the agenda but leaders still pressed ahead with a drive to stave off catastrophic climate change.

Russia has refused to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the four-year civil war, which has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives and displaced millions more.

Moscow has embarked on its own bombing campaign that has been welcomed by the regime but greeted with suspicion in the West.

"We must not let this gap between us be the altar on which this country, Syria, is slaughtered," British Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC radio before heading into talks with Putin.

Despite disputes with Moscow, there is agreement that ISIS was as much a threat to Russia as to Europe, Cameron said.

"We are prepared to make compromises," he added.

Only a permanent political settlement in Syria would enable world powers to "destroy and degrade" Islamic State, Cameron said, adding that British security services have foiled some seven terror attacks since June.

Turkish presidential sources said terrorism and a vast refugee crisis were discussed at Sunday's official dinner, with host President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasising the need for greater intelligence sharing.

After talks with Cameron, Putin said other disputes should be put aside to "unite our efforts in our fight against this evil, this terrorism".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for "intensive cooperation" between intelligence agencies as well as the military to combat terror.

US President Barack Obama on Sunday held one of his most intimate discussions yet with Putin, both men seen hunched over a coffee table in animated discussion during a break in the summit.

US officials said the two leaders agreed on the need for a political transition for Syria that would be set up by a ceasefire and UN-brokered talks. The Kremlin said the two sides shared the same goal of fighting Islamic State but differed on tactics.

The stepped-up diplomacy came after world powers agreed in Vienna at the weekend on an outline for political transition for Syria, but crucially not on the fraught issue of what should happen to Russia's ally Assad.

In the draft special statement obtained by AFP, world leaders raised the alarm over an "acute and growing flow of foreign terrorist fighters".

They vowed to share intelligence, track border crossings and boost aviation security to halt the movement of extremist fighters.

Turkey, which said it had foiled a potentially, major terror attack in Istanbul on the same day as the Paris attacks, lamented that it had already warned the French authorities that one of the bombers in the attacks was a threat.

Despite the heavy shadow cast by the attacks, world leaders pressed on with their original agenda, pledging in a draft to agree legally-binding goals on climate change at a conference in Paris later this month but making no mention of whether they will help developing countries meet the targets.

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