Turkey has right to defend territory, air space, Obama says

Turkey has right to defend territory, air space, Obama says

Turkey has right to defend territory, air space, Obama says

US President Barack Obama shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande during their news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. AP photo

Ankara and Moscow must ease tensions, said U.S. President Barack Obama, while commenting on the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey, as he higlighted that Turkey has a right to protect its borders.

“Turkey, like any other country, has a right to defend its territory and its air space,” Obama said during a joint press conference with French President François Hollande.

"It's very important right now for us to make sure that both the Russians and the Turks are talking to each other to find out exactly what happened and take measures to discourage any kind of escalation," Obama said. 

He said downing of the Russian plane points to an “ongoing problem with Russian operations near the Turkish border.”

The U.S. president said he expected to be in communication with the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the next several days.

Obama also said that Russian strikes against moderate opposition there only serve to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.  

He also said the United States and France will stand united to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, pledging to step up efforts to combat terrorism alongside its European partners.

"As Americans, we stand by our friends in good times and in bad, no matter what," Obama said.

Hollande is trying to rally support this week for a more coordinated international campaign to destroy ISIL.

He is due to visit Moscow on Nov. 26.

"The United States and France stand united, in total solidarity, to deliver justice to these terrorists ... and to defend our nations," Obama said, adding that ISIL and its ideology "pose a serious threat to all of us."

Hollande said the United States and France have agreed to step up strikes in Syria and Iraq to target ISIL. Hollande said he and Obama agreed on the importance of closing the Turkish border to limit the movement of extremists into Europe.

Hollande's meeting with Obama follows the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people at the national sports stadium, a concert venue and bars and restaurants in heart of the French capital. ISIL has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Obama said he and Hollande agreed that more needed to be done to combat ISIL's efforts.

"U.S. assistance has supported recent French strikes in Syria and we're going to keep stepping up that coordination," he said. "We will continue to do everything in our power to defend our nation."

"We will win and groups like ISIL will lose," Obama said.

"Viva la France," Obama said.