President Obama arrived in Paris late Sunday for the climate summit that’s been hotly anticipated by the White House, stopping at one of the terror attack sites soon after he landed.
It was nearly midnight local time when Obama was greeted at Orly airport by U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. His armored car, The Beast, was flown in as well. Though highways around Paris experienced closures due to all of the arriving delegations, many people were home watching a French public television documentary on terrorism, the White House foreign pool report noted.
At 12:45 a.m., Obama stopped outside the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people died during a show from a California band, Eagles of Death Metal.
Obama stood silently before the sidewalk memorial of candles and flowers, and set down a white rose without comment. He was joined by French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who arrived separately but at the same time as Obama.
In a briefing with reporters last week on the climate summit, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said “the pursuit of an international effort to combat climate change has been a hallmark of the president’s foreign policy and international engagement.”
“It was the French determination of the host that heads of state and government should come at the outset,” Rhodes said. “We believe that provides an opportunity to generate momentum for a successful outcome. By attending the summit, delivering his remarks, but also meeting with two of the most parties — India and China — and by convening the island nations to elevate the stakes, the president I think intends to generate momentum toward the successful outcome while leaving behind a significant number of his senior officials to participate in the ongoing negotiations.”
Like the Iran nuclear deal, Obama will leave Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in Paris to work out the details of a climate-change agreement.
Rhodes said Obama wants to send the message “that we will not be deterred from doing the important work that the world demands because of the actions of a number of terrorists.”
Obama has bilateral meetings scheduled today with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; tonight he’ll have a working dinner with Hollande.