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Paris attacks centre-stage as world leaders meet in Turkey

How will the world respond to bloodshed now extending far beyond the Middle East? [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 November, 2015

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The leaders of the world's 20 top economies are meeting for a summit in Turkey that is expected to be dominated by the fight against extremists following the Paris attacks.

World leaders gathering for a major summit in the shadow of a horrifying terror spree in Paris are looking to answer a critical question: Beyond tough talk, how will the world respond to bloodshed now extending far beyond the Islamic State group's foothold in the Middle East?

The spectre of the Islamic State threat and Syria's civil war is hanging over the Turkish seaside city of Antalya as leaders descend for the Group of 20 summit of leading rich and developing nations.

President Barack Obama planned to discuss the IS threat with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. Leaders attending the summit were also to take up the issue of terrorism during a working dinner in the evening.

The worst bloodshed in France since cast a pall over preparations for the two-day summit of the Group of 20 major economies that begins on Sunday and is due to be attended by heads of state including President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.   

     We are now at a point where words end in the fight against terrorism. Turkish President Erdogan


French President Francois Hollande has pulled out of the meetings but told Erdogan by phone that his foreign and finance ministers would attend, Turkish presidential sources said.

At least 127 people were killed as bombers and gunmen went on a rampage across the French capital overnight, targeting a concert hall, restaurants, bars and a sports stadium.

"We are now at a point where words end in the fight against terrorism. We are now at a stage where this should be put at the forefront," Erdogan told reporters ahead of the summit, also due to be attended by leaders from Europe, China, Japan, Canada, Australia and Brazil, among others.

Although the G20 usually focuses on economic issues, the fight against terrorism was already expected to be on the agenda. The summit comes two weeks after a suspected bomb attack on a Russian airliner killed 224 people in the Sinai Peninsula.

It also comes just over a month after two suspected Islamic State suicide bombers blew themselves up at a peace rally in the Turkish capital Ankara, killing more than 100 people in the worst such attack in the country.

     French President Francois Hollande has pulled out of the meetings.


Events such as the attacks in Paris made it crucial for the world's top economies to stand shoulder to shoulder at the summit, China's vice finance minister said.

French President Francois Hollande has pulled out of the meetings but told Erdogan by phone that his foreign and finance ministers would attend, Turkish presidential sources said.  

Speaking to Russian and Turkish media before his trip to the G20 summit in Turkey, Putin said Russian forces have a "clear task to provide air support for the Syrian army's offensive against terrorists." He added that "the time of our military's stay will be determined exclusively by the fulfillment of that goal."  

Putin earlier dismissed the claims by the US and its allies that Russian warplanes have mostly targeted moderate opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad instead of their declared main target, the Islamic State group.

President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of Germany, Britain, Italy and France on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in the hope of making "incremental progress" in the fight against the Islamic State group, the White House said.  But Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, suggested a major breakthrough was unlikely.

"I don't think anybody expects a single outcome that all of a sudden readily resolves all of these difficult issues," Rice said.

     Putin has re-emerged as a key player in the Syria conflict.

Russia, which is circulating a new proposal to end the Syrian conflict, won't participate in the meeting in Turkey, and Obama had no plans to hold a formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin while both are in Antalya.  Still, Rice said Obama and Putin would have "ample opportunity for discussion" during informal run-ins at the summit.

Efforts by the US  and European countries to punish Russia with economic sanctions have done little to change Putin's approach in Ukraine.

And in recent weeks, Putin has re-emerged as a key player in the Syria conflict, opening an air campaign against groups fighting Syria's government and now drafting a plan for a lengthy political transition.   

 

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