US: We should have sent higher official to Paris

CNC
Added On January 13, 2015

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Facing a barrage of criticism for President Barack Obama's decision not to attend Sunday's unity march in Paris, the White House admitted on Monday it should have sent a higher-profile official there.

"It is fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile to be there," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, stressing the administration's support for France, one of its oldest allies.

Security concerns played a role in Obama's absence in the march, as security requirements for such events where a president appeared were "onerous and significant," Earnest said.

"Had the circumstance been different, I think the president himself would have liked to have had the opportunity to be there," Earnest said.

More than a million people took to the streets of the French capital Sunday in honor of the 17 victims killed in a three-day bloodshed. More than 40 leaders, including French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, also attended the rally. The only senior American official in attendance was the U.S. ambassador to France Jane Hartley.

Several prominent Republicans criticized the Obama administration for not sending any higher-profile figures to the rally, calling such absence a mistake that should have been averted.

During his trip to India, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he didn't attend the rally because of a prior planned trip to India. However, he said he would travel to Paris later this week to discuss countering extremist violence.