French President Francois Hollande and Russia's Vladimir Putin have agreed to share intelligence information and cooperate on selecting targets in the fight against the Islamic State, raising hope for closer ties between Moscow and the US-led anti-IS coalition following the Paris terror attacks.
Putin said that Russia is ready to more broadly coordinate its military action in Syria with the US-led coalition, but he harshly criticised Washington for failing to prevent the downing of a Russian warplane by NATO member Turkey on Tuesday. Hollande said the downing of the Russian jet was a "serious incident, obviously regrettable", that underlined the need for closer coordination between the nations which are fighting IS.
At a press conference following the Kremlin talks, he said: "It is crucial in that period to avoid any risk, any incident, and prevent any escalation."
"The only goal we must have is fighting Daesh and neutralize the terrorists, there is no other goal."
IS has claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks in Paris - which killed 130 and injured a further 350 people - as well as deadly bombings in Beirut and the downing of a Russian airplane on October 31, that killed all 224 people on board over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
Hollande said he and Putin agreed to "increase information and intelligence exchange, intensify airstrikes against Daesh, which will be subject to a coordination to increase their efficiency" and make sure that "the forces combatting Daesh and other terrorist groups must not be targeted by our actions".
Putin specified that Russia is ready to both cooperate bilaterally with France and with the US-led coalition as a whole on the choice of targets, and to determine the territories which could be struck, as well as those that must be spared, and to exchange information on various issues and coordinate action on the battlefield.
At the same time, the Russian leader harshly criticised the US for the failure to prevent its NATO ally Turkey from shooting down the Russian military jet, which resulted in one pilot being killed. A second pilot was also killed in a rescue mission.
Turkey said it shot down the Russian Su-24 bomber after it flew into its airspace for 17 seconds despite repeated warnings.
Putin dismissed the Turkish claim and held the US responsible for failing to rein in its ally, saying that Russia had informed the US about its military flights in advance in line with a recent agreement between Moscow and Washington aimed at preventing clashes between their aircraft.
As the leader of the anti-IS coalition, the US should have made sure that the Russian warplanes aren't targeted by its members, Putin said.
"We proceed from the assumption that it will never happen again," he said.
"Otherwise we don't need any such cooperation with any country."
He denounced the Turkish action, saying it "thoughtlessly and rudely" destroyed friendly ties between the two countries.
Putin added that from now on Russia will protect its warplanes with the long-range S-400 air defense missiles deployed at its air base in Syria. The military will also be sending fighter jets to escort bombers over Syria, use electronic countermeasures and other means to prevent any hostile action in the future, he said.
Hollande's visit comes two days after he met with President Barack Obama in Washington, where both leaders vowed to escalate airstrikes against IS and bolster intelligence sharing.
Following his meeting with the French president, Obama said Russian cooperation in the fight against IS would be "enormously helpful." Both Obama and Hollande, however, insisted that a political transition in Syria must lead to Assad's departure. Russia, on the other hand, has been Assad's staunchest ally.