BELEK, Turkey (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin told British Prime Minister David Cameron on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Turkey he was seeking to do more to focus Russian efforts on combating Islamic state, a source in Cameron’s office said.
The killing of 132 people in coordinated attacks across Paris on Friday shifted the focus of the usually economic summit onto terrorism. Islamic State, which holds large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, claimed responsibility.
Russia and Britain back opposing sides in Syria’s four-and-a-half-year war. Moscow is supplying weapons to President Bashar al-Assad while London supports moderate opposition fighters. Both states have conducted air strikes against Islamic State there, but Western capitals have accused Moscow of focusing too little on Islamic State, while targeting Assad’s enemies.
“The prime minister absolutely made the point that you should be focusing on ISIL,” a source in Cameron’s office said, using one of the titles ascribed to Islamic State. “Putin said look we are seeking to do more to focus on ISIL.”
Hundreds of Russian and British citizens have joined Islamic State, raising fears they or their local networks, would stage attacks on their home soil.
“The recent tragic events in France show that we should join efforts in preventing terror,” Putin was quoted as telling Cameron.
Just over a fortnight ago, a suspected bomb caused a Russian airliner to crash over the Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on board. Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Dasha Afanasieva and Katya Golubkova; Editing by Maria Kiselyova and Ralph Boulton