Washington: US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter has met with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Pentagon, vowing to strengthen cooperation between the two countries with the aim to fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Carter and Le Drian also held a joint news conference on Monday after their meeting, which focused on discussing efforts in fighting against IS, Xinhua reported.
Carter commended France for its commitment in the fight to deliver a lasting defeat to IS, a campaign that both sides agreed requires a sustained long-term effort.
Earlier this year, France deployed its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle to the Persian Gulf to support counter-IS airstrikes, according to Carter.
The French air force continues to play a critical role after being the first to join the US in striking IS targets in Iraq, the US defence chief added.
US forces would continue to support France in efforts with airlift and aerial-refueling capabilities, Carter pledged, stressing the partnership between France and the United States has long been instrumental to building lasting peace and prosperity.
Le Drian said that IS was no longer a terrorist group, but rather has morphed into a “terrorist army”. That change means IS has to be fought on multiple fronts, he said. IS now has the capability to act as a classical army, but also to have operations in urban areas and terroristic operations. “They can do all three at the same time”.
Le Drian also defended the coalition strategy against IS. “The repetition of strikes in Iraq allowed us to stabilise: not to win, but to stabilize the situation,” said the French defence minister, reiterating “It is a long-term job”.
According to a Pentagon statement, the two defence officials have also discussed how to further enhance intelligence sharing between two militaries for counterterrorism operations.