US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) is accompanied by US ambassador to Paris Jane Hartley as he visits a memorial site near Charlie Hebdo's offices in Paris, on January 16, 2015. Kerry expressed his solidarity with France against terrorism. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo
PARIS, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Paris Friday to emphasize the United States' solidarity with France in light of terror-related attacks in the city.
He embraced French President Francois Hollande outside the Elysee Palace, where Hollande compared the Jan. 7 attack on the offices of the magazine Charlie Hebdo to the Sept. 11, 2001 attack in New York, adding the French people "were victims of an exceptional terrorist attack. We must therefore together find the necessary response, and that is the (reason) for meeting today, beyond friendship."
Kerry then traveled to the magazine office, where he brought flowers to an improvised shrine outside the building.
Speaking later, in French and in English at Paris' city hall, Kerry said, "What the extremists, the terrorists don't understand, will never understand, is that bravery and decency will never bow down to intimidation and terror...over and above the passionate and complex debates about the reasons for the tragedy, above politics, religion, satire, is another common hope, the hope of creating a world based on love and not on hate. What the terrorists fear most is tolerance, liberty, truth but we simply will not descend into despair."
The address was attended by Lassana Bathily, a Muslim man from Mali who hid Jewish shoppers in the kosher supermarket where a gunman killed four people after the magazine office attack. Also there were Paris Mayor Ann Hidalgo and American singer James Taylor, there to perform "You've Got a Friend."
The hastily-arranged trip, after the White House admitted it erred in not sending a high-ranking U.S. representative to a massive rally of solidarity in Paris Sunday, was meant, Kerry said, to "share a big hug for Paris." The symbolic nature of the trip is likely to become one of global urgency, overshadowed by events Thursday in Belgium, where prosecutors said a major plot by Islamist militants to kill police officers was stopped with the arrest of 15 suspects in Belgium and France.