U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with French Minister Laurent Fabius before a bilateral meeting on the margins of talks focused on Iran’s nuclear capabilities, Geneva, Switzerland, November 23, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
About the Author: Mitchell Moss serves as Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France.
We were all waiting for lunch to finish and Secretary Kerry to come striding through the ornate double doors that lead into the “Salon de l’Horloge” with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
Built by Napoleon III in 1855, “ornate” doesn’t begin to describe the Salon de l’Horloge, whose antique clock reminded all that the presser was now 45 minutes late. Framed in the floor to ceiling windows of the Quai d’Orsay was postcard Paris: “bateaux mouches” were plying the flooded Seine, and the elongated domes of Sacre Coeur could be seen on Montmartre in the distance, still showing traces of snow from a few days earlier.
Earlier that morning, the Secretary had stopped to shake hands with the motorcycle escort parked near… more »
SECRETARY KERRY: (In French - Via interpreter) Thank you very much, Minister. Thank you for your warm hospitality. Thank you very much for welcoming us here today. It’s a great pleasure for me to be here with Foreign Minister Fabius. We just finished one of those wonderful French lunches that have been drawing Americans to Paris for centuries. Of course, it’s a privilege to share any meal with Laurent. He is a trusted friend, a steadfast ally, and a valued partner. And I would like to thank him for all of these. France, as you know, is the oldest ally of the United States, so we would like to thank you also for that. And now I will speak in English, because otherwise I would not be allowed to return back home. (Laughter.)
(In English.) I think it’s worth saying in both languages that France is America’s oldest ally, our first friend, and France helped to shape America and helped it to be the America it is today. As our first diplomatic partner, France taught us what happens in one nation can affect what happens in every other nation. For more than 200 years, we have stood together in battle, from the siege of Yorktown to the liberation of Paris, to today, and we’ve also stood together for peace, most importantly. We continue to advance the cause of human liberty and to champion universal values that really built our sister republics. Standing here in Paris today, I think of someone else who lived in Boston and Europe as a young man, Benjamin Franklin, and his patriotic compatriot Thomas Jefferson, the first Secretary of State. Those two geniuses, literally, would walk the streets of Paris discussing Voltaire and Rousseau and debating in this city’s famous salons, and formulating ideas that lit up the world. MORE