France has granted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry its highest award, the Legion of Honor (Legion d’Honneur).
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault bestowed the award on Kerry Saturday in Paris after a meeting to discuss Syria.
Ayrault called Kerry “the most French of American officials” and a “tireless champion of peace.”
France’s top diplomat paid tribute to the sincerity of Kerry’s political and diplomatic engagement, citing his contributions to the historic 2015 climate change agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the struggle to bring the war in Syria to an end.
Kerry, who speaks French, said the honor was a symbol of the warm relationship between France and the U.S.
Visibly emotional, Kerry said France was America’s oldest ally and with a touch of humor, greeted in French: “Vive les frites, Vive les French fries, Vive la France, and Vive the United States and all my friends.”
Kerry’s mother and aunt were born in Paris in the early 1920s, and as a young man he spent holidays at the family residence in Saint-Brignac-sur-Mer in Brittany.