In the aftermath of last Sunday’s Charlie Hebdo rally in Paris, the White House admitted that the US should have been represented by someone more senior than its Ambassador to France. The Secretary of State John Kerry said he would travel to France later in the week and show solidarity with the French people.
On Friday, the French people were treated to images of Mr Kerry standing stiffly as he listened to American singer James Taylor sing the 1970s hit You’ve Got a Friend.
The performance at the Paris municipal headquarters started awkwardly enough as Mr Taylor could not initially he heard and then got more painful. At one point Mr Kerry appeared to be tapping his foot; thankfully he did not sing along.
Earlier, carrying flowers and speaking in French, Mr Kerry had offered his condolences to the French people for the attacks that left 16 people dead. While Mr Kerry and his aides stressed that he was not trying to make amends for the US absence on Sunday, he sought to convey the United States solidarity with France, its oldest ally.
“Today, I wanted to be here, at home with you, among you,“ Kerry said, speaking in fluent, American-accented French, according to Reuters. “I wanted to tell you personally of the horror and revulsion that all Americans felt at these cowardly and despicable attacks against innocent victims and fundamental values.”
He added: “I really wanted to come here and share a hug with all of Paris, with all of France.”
There was more awkwardness when Mr Kerry did literally hug French President Francois Hollande in the courtyard of the Elysee presidential palace.
“You have the full and heartfelt condolences of the American people,” Mr Kerry told Mr Hollande. “We share the pain and the horror of everything you went through.”
He added: “The French people...were victims of an exceptional terrorist attack. We must therefore together find the necessary response.”
With French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius riding along, Mr Kerry was taken to the Hyper Cacher, a Jewish supermarket where four people died, and then at Charlie Hebdo, where 12 were killed.Reuse content