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World

President Obama Condemns Attacks In Paris

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Let's go now to NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Kelly.

MCEVERS: President Obama spoke a little earlier this evening, and he described this immediately as a terrorist attack. Let's take a listen to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BARACK OBAMA: This is an attack not just on Paris. It's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.

MCEVERS: Scott, what else did we hear from the president this evening?

HORSLEY: The president said those values that we share with the French - liberty, equality, fraternity - will endure far beyond any act of terror. Now, the president said it's too soon to say who is responsible for this, and he didn't want to speculate while the investigation's underway, but as you heard, he didn't mince any words. He immediately identified this as an act of terrorism, and act of extremism. And he said that the United States will stand with its oldest ally, France, in fighting against that terrorism.

MCEVERS: Earlier today, Scott, the president actually spoke with President Hollande of France. And what was that conversation?

HORSLEY: Yeah, the president said this evening that he didn't want to telephone French President Hollande right now because he knew that he was very busy. But by coincidence the two leaders had spoken earlier today. They're both on their way, or were supposed to be on their way to a G-20 summit meeting in Turkey this weekend. We know that the president is still planning to go to the G-20 summit that starts on Sunday. We don't know whether President Hollande's travel plans might have changed. But on the menu for that summit meeting is a working dinner to address the subject of terrorism.

MCEVERS: And do you think there will be anything else on that agenda that will change now that these attacks have happened?

HORSLEY: Well, of course this was already a somewhat unusual event. The G-20 is ordinarily a body that discusses economic issues, and there's still plenty of that to talk about as the leaders for these 20 big economies gather in Turkey. But because of the situation in Syria, the bloody civil war there and the flow of refugees into Turkey and into Europe - more than 2 million refugees from Syria and Turkey alone - that was put on the agenda for this G-20 meeting. There's to be a working dinner on Sunday night, and I'm sure that that's going to be, you know, very much front-and-center given this attack in Paris.

MCEVERS: And what about the Defense Department? What are you hearing from the Pentagon at this point?

HORSLEY: Defense Secretary Ash Carter was briefed late this afternoon on the attacks in Paris. He hopes to reach out to his counterpart, the defense minister in France, at some point during the weekend. Of course, the Defense Department has been checking to see if maybe any American service members were injured in this attack. In addition, the State Department has been working through its consular offices to make sure that any American citizens who might have been affected by these attacks in Paris are getting the help that they need. We've also heard from the Department of Homeland Security which, of course, has been in contact with its French counterparts along with the FBI. As of now, what they're saying is that there is no specific, credible threat to a further extension of this coordinated attack on this side of the Atlantic. But of course, everyone is on high alert. The security forces are taking extra precautions to make sure that they're ready for anything that might happen. But as of now, DHS says no specific, credible threat in the U.S.

MCEVERS: That's NPR's Scott Horsley. Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.