PARIS (AP) — Pledging "to share a big hug with Paris" and show American solidarity with the French people after last week's deadly terrorist attacks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has touched down in the French capital.
Kerry arrived in Paris on Thursday from Sofia, Bulgaria, where he said his trip to France is not an apology for the Obama administration's failure to send a senior official to last weekend's unity march. Rather, he said it is to express the "affection" Americans have for France, which has been on edge since the attacks.
Kerry will go to a town hall meeting with the mayor of Paris on Friday and express sympathy for the victims of the terror attacks last week. Singer-songwriter James Taylor, an old friend of Kerry's, has joined him there and will perform one song.
He said he did not intend to explain the lack of a high-profile U.S. presence at Sunday's march, which the White House has acknowledged was a mistake.
Some 40 world leaders and more than a million people took part in the march to show solidarity with France after the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket.
"I don't feel any other exigencies, other than continuation of our friendship and our responsibilities as good friends and the longest ally in our history, and that's why I am going," Kerry said.
Kerry announced on Monday that he would add a stop in Paris to a previously scheduled trip to Germany, India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Bulgaria. The announcement came as critics derided the administration for not sending the president, vice president or a Cabinet-level official to the demonstration even though Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris for counterterror meetings.