Obama speaks to Australia PM about hostage crisis – USA TODAY

President Obama spoke by phone Tuesday night with Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott about this week’s hostage crisis in Sydney, pledging any and all American assistance, aides said.

Obama “expressed condolences on behalf of the American people to the families that lost loved ones, and his wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured,” the White House said in a statement. “He conveyed admiration for the strength, resilience, and compassion of the Australian people and his confidence that they will emerge from this tragedy stronger.”

The standoff ended with three dead, including the gunman who had taken hostages at a chocolate shop in downtown Sydney.

Australians have come together in the wake of the tragedy, Obama said to Abbott, including a program promoted on social media called “I’ll Ride With You.”

“Noting the Australian public’s embrace of #Illridewithyou and the Muslim leaders who have disavowed the actions of the hostage taker, the President also praised Australia’s rejection of any violence taken in the name of religion and the fear this violence seeks to stoke,” the White House said.

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