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Kerry To Hold Talks In Paris Following Attacks

  • RFE/RL

Family members and relatives of the 17 victims take part in a solidarity march in the streets of Paris on January 11.

Family members and relatives of the 17 victims take part in a solidarity march in the streets of Paris on January 11.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he will travel to Paris this week for talks with French officials on countering extremist violence after the deadly attacks by Islamist militants.

Speaking in India on January 12, Kerry said he would be in Paris on January 15-16.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is facing criticism for not sending a senior official to the January 11 unity rally in Paris that was attended by more than 1 million people, including some 40 world leaders.

Kerry said he was going to reaffirm U.S. solidarity with the country's oldest ally.

He said that when he heard about the rally, he asked his team when was the earliest he could go to France.

Kerry will meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and honor the 17 victims killed in the January 7-9 attacks on the offices of a satirical weekly that published caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, a policewoman, and a kosher grocery store.

Pope Francis said on January 12 that the attackers were enslaved by "deviant forms of religion" that used God as a mere ideological pretext to perpetuate mass killings.

In his annual foreign-policy address to ambassadors, Francis called for a unanimous global response to end "fundamentalist terrorism" in the Middle East, and urged Muslim leaders in particular to condemn "extremist interpretations" of their faith that seek to justify such violence.

The Paris march on January 11 was attended by the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, and the U.S. ambassador to France.

"No single act of terror, no two people with AK-47s, no hostage taking at a grocery store, is ever going to prevent those who are committed to the march of freedom," Kerry told reporters.

He said the United States had "offered, from the first moment, our intel, our law enforcement, and all of our efforts."

Kerry said the U.S. relationship with France "is deeply, deeply based in the shared values and particularly the commitment that we share to freedom of expression."

Eight of the victims who died in the attacks were journalists at Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that had faced repeated threats over its cartoons of Muhammad.

Four of the victims died at a kosher grocery store where gunman Amedy Coulibaly took hostages on January 9.

French President Francois Hollande condemned that attack as an "appalling anti-Semitic act."

The victims also included two police and two other people at Charlie Hebdo, and a policewoman shot dead on January 8 -- another attack police said Coulibaly carried out.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on January 12 that Coulibaly's partner and suspected accomplice, 26-year-old Hayat Boumedienne, crossed into Syria on January 8 after arriving in Istanbul on January 2.

Authorities had initially said she might have been by his side during the attacks.

Also on January 12, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that some 10,000 military troops will be deployed to "sensitive points" across the country.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said separately that nearly 5,000 police and security forces would be deployed to protect the country's more than 700 Jewish schools.

Addressing parents of students at a Jewish school in Paris, he said soldiers would also be posted as reinforcements.

Israel expects the influx of Jews from France to accelerate this year in the wake of the attacks.

The number of French Jews moving to Israel had already been expected to rise sharply from 2014's record level.

Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency promoting emigration to Israel, estimates that Israel will receive 10,000 French immigrants, up from 7,000 last year and 3,300 in 2013.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa