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Hollande to hold talks with Kerry on Paris attacks

Dominique Faget, AFP | US Secretary of State John Kerry, next to US ambassador to France Jane D. Hartley, delivers a speech at the US embassy in Paris on November 16, 2015

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to stress Washington's support for a key ally in the war against the Islamic State group on Tuesday morning when he meets with French President François Hollande in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

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Kerry arrived in the French capital on Monday under tight security. His visit comes just three days after Paris was struck by a series of coordinated terror attacks that killed at least 129 people and injured more than 350.

Kerry is scheduled to meet with Hollande at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris at 8:40am local time Tuesday.

Speaking in front of the US embassy in Paris shortly after landing, Kerry reiterated the United States’ commitment to its close relationship with France.

“I have said many times, as have all of my predecessors, that France is America’s closest friend, our first ally. And during our darkest hours, that fact rings truer than ever,” he said.

“Don’t mistake what these attacks represent. This is not a clash of civilisations, these terrorists have declared war against all civilisation” Kerry said, echoing comments made by Hollande during a historic joint session of parliament at the Palace of Versailles earlier in the day.

The secretary of state went on to describe the Islamic State (IS) group, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, as “psychopathic monsters”. He also said that plans to hold the COP21 climate change conference in Paris next month would not be cancelled, adding that US President Barack Obama was looking forward to the event.

"Tonight we are all Parisians...Ultimately we will defeat Daesh and all who share their despicable ideology,” Kerry said, using the Arabic acronym for the IS group.

“Long live friendship with America,” Kerry concluded in fluent French, as the US embassy was lit up in the colours of France’s flag: blue, white and red.

Obama pledged support to France after the attacks, which he called “an outrageous attempt to terrorise innocent civilians”.

Among the victims was a 23-year-old US 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 US-led operation. On Sunday its jets launched their biggest raids in Syria to date, hitting the militant group’s stronghold of Raqqa.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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