Turkey 'can do more' in anti-ISIL fight: Carter
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said Turkey "can do more" in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, particularly by tightening its border to stop the flow of resources and foreign fighters.
"Turkey occupies a key position in the coalition -- it is hosting aircraft and making other contributions," Carter told reporters in Paris, where he has been meeting defence ministers from several countries involved in the anti-ISIL coalition.
"I do believe that Turkey can do more, and therefore the kind of campaign plan I was discussing with other ministers... would very, very much benefit from a stronger effort by Turkey," he added.
He said the priority for Turkey, a NATO member, was gaining greater control over its "long and difficult border" with Iraq and Syria.
"The Turkish border is a place where ISIL fighters have gone back and forth, logistics and supplies for ISIL have been furnished," said Carter.
"Just as I am asking everybody else in the coalition to step up and do more... just as the US military is doing more, so we would like to see Turkey to do more also."
Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande said Jan. 21 that a coalition waging a bombing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) would “accelerate” air strikes.
“The pace of the interventions will be accelerated and France will play its role in this,” Hollande was quoted as saying by AFP in a speech to ambassadors.
His comments followed a meeting by the defense ministers of seven countries in the coalition on Jan. 20, who said their strategy was to free the ISIL “power centers” of Raqqa and Mosul in Syria and Iraq.
“They also decided to reinforce support to Arab and Kurdish forces fighting Daesh on the ground,” Hollande said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.
He told ambassadors that 2016 must be a “year of transition” in Syria, which is entering its sixth year of war.
U.N.-brokered Syrian peace talks are tentatively set for Jan. 25 in Geneva, despite disagreements over who will represent the opposition.
“The moderate opposition has agreed to attend. The key question of who will govern Syria should not be avoided,” Hollande said.