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Obama Praises Russian Role In Syria Talks

U.S. President Barack Obama has praised Russia's role in talks to end the Syria crisis and said he wants Moscow to shift from propping up Syria’s regime to battling Islamic State militants.

Speaking at a news conference in Manila on November 18, Obama said there were still differences with Russia over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

But he said Russia had been a "constructive partner in Vienna in trying to create a political transition," referring to international talks in Austria.

"In their initial military incursion into Syria, they have been more focused on propping up President Assad," Obama said.

"If, in fact, [President Vladimir Putin] shifts his focus and the focus of his military, to what is the principle threat, which is ISIL, then that is what we want to see," Obama said using another acronym for Islamic State.

Obama also said he welcomed France's move to step up strikes on Islamic State and that Washington would help its ally.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP