WASHINGTON– French President François Hollande arrived at the White House Tuesday prepared to press U.S. President Barack Obama for a higher-octane approach to battling ISIS, though it appeared unlikely Obama was willing to change course on his strategy.
Hollande and Obama huddled behind closed doors in the Oval Office, and neither offered any preview of their meeting to reporters at the session’s start.
But Hollande has openly called for a greater international effort to push back ISIS, whose killing spree in Paris two weeks ago was the worst terror attack on French soil in more than half a century.
The French leader’s jet-set diplomacy will also take him to Moscow, where he’ll meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. Hollande held talked with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday and will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday.
Obama, who returned from a week-long foreign swing on Monday, made clear in the aftermath of the Paris attacks he wasn’t considering a change in strategy, saying instead he was planning to intensify the U.S.-led coalition’s air campaign in Iraq and Syria.
The White House signaled Monday that it already believes U.S. contributions to the anti-ISIS effort are sufficient.
“The United States is certainly pulling more than our own weight when it comes to the contribution behind this coalition,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “That’s something that we’re glad to do. That is in line with the long tradition of American leadership. It certainly is a tradition that this president believes in.”
In the meeting, Obama is expected to tout new intelligence-sharing, which has helped France identify targets for airstrikes in Raqqa, ISIS’s capital in Syria.
Hollande has called for greater cooperation between the United States and Russia in battling ISIS, though persistent U.S. skepticism about Putin’s intentions in Syria have until now prevented any significant military coordination between the two countries.
By Kevin Liptak
CNN White House Producer