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Kerry reaches out in ‘love letter’ to skeptical French on Syria

Published: Updated:

Flaunting his fluency in the language of love, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at length in French on Saturday, outlining the case for military action against the Syrian regime.

His audience, an increasingly skeptical French public, listened to what Kerry had to offer in what was described by Reuters news agency as a “love letter” to France.

“This is our Munich moment, this is our chance to join together and pursue accountability over appeasement,” Kerry said, referring to the 1938 Munich Agreement that ceded control of part of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany.

“The United States, and our French partners know this, cannot stand by in the face of this massacre. We cannot let a dictator make use of the most terrifying weapons with impunity,” he said, in a speech that lasted eight minutes at a joint press conference with French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Paris.

Keen to reassure that military action would not involve ground troops, Kerry said: “We are not talking about going to war, this is not Iraq, it is not Afghanistan, it is not even Libya or Kosovo.”

Following the British parliament’s Aug. 29 vote to reject any British use of force against Syria, which the United States accuses of gassing its own people with sarin, France has made no secret of its desire to play Washington’s supporting partner.

Kerry, whose mother was born in Paris when his grandfather was working here in the 1920s, has repeatedly described France as “the oldest ally” of the United States, according to AFP news agency.

The latest French public opinion poll showed 68 percent of people opposed to military action, an increase of nine percentage points since late August.

(With AFP and Reuters)