PARIS: Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday the United States would stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with France in determination to defeat Islamic State militants who claimed responsibility for gun and bomb attacks that killed 129 people in Paris.
Kerry spoke after arriving in Paris to pay respects to the victims of bloodshed at several restaurants, a cafe, concert hall and soccer stadium targeted by militants on Friday. He is due to meet President Francois Hollande on Tuesday morning.
After flying in from Turkey, where he had been attending the G20 meetings, Kerry headed directly to the U.S. Embassy in central Paris and pressed a switch the illuminate the outside of the building with the blue, white and red of the French flag.
“No one should doubt that the light still shines in the City of Light,” he said. “Paris has known even darker moments and it has overcome them.”
Kerry referred to France as America’s oldest ally and said the United States would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with it in the fight against Islamic State.
“Tonight we are all Parisians,” he said. “Ultimately we will defeat Daesh and all who share their despicable ideology,” Kerry said, referring to Islamic State by its Arabic acronym.
“This is our duty,” he added in French. “We will take it on together, and we will prevail.”
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged support to France after the attacks, which he called “an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians”.
Among those killed was a 23-year-old U.S. exchange student, Nohemi Gonzalez, who was dining at a restaurant fired upon by gunmen.
France has been bombing Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria as part of a U.S.-led operation. On Sunday its jets launched their biggest raids in Syria to date, hitting the militant group’s stronghold of Raqqa.
On Sunday, the Pentagon said the United States and France had agreed on concrete steps to ramp up the fight against Islamic State during a phone call between U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Carter reiterated the United States was committed to supporting France and moving together, he said, to make sure Islamic State is “dealt a lasting defeat”. – REUTERS