US Defends Its No-Show in Paris

Only senior US official at unity rally was ambassador
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2015 3:51 AM CST
Updated Jan 12, 2015 7:56 AM CST
White House: Obama Would Have Been 'Distracting' in Paris
Leaders including David Cameron, Francois Hollande, and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel march during a rally in Paris yesterday.   (AP Photo/Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

(Newser) – At least 40 world leaders linked arms and marched at a huge rally in Paris to denounce terrorism yesterday—but there was no President Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, or even Eric Holder, who was in the city at the time. As the leaders marched, Holder was taping an interview for Meet the Press. The most senior US official present was the ambassador to France, reports the New York Daily News, which notes that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas set aside their differences to join the unity rally, which brought up to 3 million people to the streets of the city.

story continues below

The absence of senior US officials has attracted plenty of criticism, but the White House stresses that US officials have been working closely with their French counterparts. A senior administration official tells CNN that the security required for Obama's presence "can be distracting from events like this—for once this event is not about us." John Kerry, who's in India, says the criticism is "quibbling" and he plans to visit France on his way back to the US to show America's solidarity with its oldest ally, the AP reports. "The relationship with France is not about one day or one particular moment," he told reporters today. "It is an ongoing, longtime relationship that is deeply, deeply based in the shared values, and particularly the commitment that we share to freedom of expression." (Read more Paris stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.