SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is not traveling to France later Thursday to apologize for the Obama administration's failure to send a senior official to last weekend's unity march, but rather to give "a big hug to Paris" in the wake of terrorist attacks that have left the city on edge.
Kerry told reporters in the Bulgarian capital that he plans "to share a big hug with Paris and express the affection of the American people for France and for our friends there who have been through a terrible time."
He said he had no plans to apologize or try to explain the lack of a high-profile U.S. presence at Sunday's march, which the White House has acknowledged was a mistake. Some 40 world leaders and more than a million people took part in the march to show solidarity with France after the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket.
"I don't feel any other exigencies, other than continuation of our friendship and our responsibilities as good friends and the longest ally in our history, and that's why I am going," Kerry said.
Kerry announced on Monday that he would add a stop in Paris to a previously scheduled trip to Germany, India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Bulgaria. The announcement came as critics derided the administration for not sending the president, vice president or a Cabinet-level official to the demonstration.