U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has shared an embrace with French President Francois Hollande as the top U.S. diplomat visits Paris to show U.S. support with France after last week’s terror attacks by Islamic extremists.
Before the two leaders held talks, they hugged and shook hands for photographers after Kerry’s arrival in the French capital.
Kerry told Hollande that France has « the full and heartfelt condolences of all the American people, » and that Americans « share the pain and the horror of everything » the French people went through.
Later, Kerry plans to lay wreaths at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine where 12 people died in last Wednesday’s shooting, and at the kosher supermarket where four hostages were killed last Friday.
Kerry met earlier Friday with his French counterpart, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, as he begins his series of meetings with French officials.
Kerry told Fabius that he could not come to Sunday’s march in Paris because of travel obligations in India and Bulgaria. He also said, « It’s good to be with you. We have a lot to talk about. »
The Obama administration has admitted it made a mistake by not sending a high-level representative to a massive anti-terrorism march in Paris Sunday that attracted other world leaders. French officials say it was the largest street demonstration in the country’s history.
Kerry said before leaving Bulgaria Thursday that he wants to give France « a big hug » after the terror attacks.
Kerry said he wants to express the affection of the American people for France, which, he says, has been through a terrible time.
Two more funerals for victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting were held Thursday – cartoonists Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac, who used the pen name « Tignous. »
The Yemeni-based terror group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo shootings.
Charlie Hebdo is known for cartoons that poke fun at Islam and all religions.
Another Islamic militant killed four people in a Jewish supermarket in Paris last week, a day after killing a policewoman. He was also killed in a police raid.
French President Francois Hollande said at the Arab World Institute in Paris Thursday that moderate Muslims are the primary victims of radical Islam.
He said Islam can be compatible with democracy, but called fundamentalist Islam fanatical and intolerant.
All 3 million copies of this week’s issue of Charlie Hebdo featuring a weeping picture of the Prophet Muhammad on the cover holding a sign saying « I Am Charlie » sold out immediately.