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John Kerry in Paris, Mali operation high on agenda

PARIS, Feb. 27 — The newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris Wednesday for talks with French officials, with Paris-led military operation in Mali expected to top his agenda.

Early in the morning, French President Francois Hollande met the U.S. top diplomat to "talk about the whole range of bilateral and transatlantic relations and the major international issues," the foreign ministry said.

Kerry will have lunch with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius to discuss Paris military operation in Mali "on which (Paris and Washington) are cooperating very closely."

France wants more U.S. and European help, including the U.S. aerial refueling capability for French planes, analysts said. However, the United States was long reluctant to decide any military action in the West African country.

"This is a common struggle (in Mali). We want them (the French) to succeed. It is in our common interest," the French daily Le Monde quoted a U.S. diplomat as saying.

Fabius and Kerry will also discuss the prospects of restarting negotiations for the Middle East peace process, the situation in Syria, Iran's disputed nuclear program, the stabilization of Afghanistan and the DPRK issue, the foreign ministry.

The top U.S. envoy, who took office on Feb. 1 succeeding Hillary Clinton, has visited Britain and Germany in his first overseas trip, which will also take him to Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

He will fly to Rome later in the day. (PNA/Xinhua)


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