President Obama on Thursday visited the French Embassy in Washington to pay condolences to the victims of a mass shooting at a Parisian satirical newspaper. 

While at the embassy, Obama met with French Ambassador to the United States Gérard Araud and signed a book of condolences. 


Araud hailed the visit as "a moving and highly significant gesture" in a tweet.  

"The French are grateful," the ambassador said.

The president's inscription reads:

"On behalf of all Americans, I extend our deepest sympathy and solidarity to the people of France following the terrible terrorist attack in Paris. As allies across the centuries, we stand united with our French brothers to ensure that justice is done and our way of life is defended. We go forward together knowing that terror is no match for freedom and ideals we stand for — ideals that light the world. Vive la France!"

The visit came shortly after the president returned from Arizona, where he was giving a speech previewing his State of the Union address. On the return flight, the president convened a call with his national security team for an update on the French investigation into the mass shooting. 

Senior officials from the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security were expected to participate in the briefing, which was conducted as the president flew back to Washington from Arizona. 

“We want to make sure we’re doing every single thing that we can at U.S. facilities — military and diplomatic, around the globe — to protect Americans,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. 

French police continued to hunt a pair of brothers suspected of being the Islamist gunmen responsible for Wednesday’s attack. Authorities there said they believe the suspects, Cherif and Said Kouachi, were responsible for the assault at the offices of Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead. 

Obama on Wednesday vowed  to “hunt down” those responsible for the “cowardly, evil attacks” and offered the full assistance of the U.S. to the French government. 

Earnest said there had been “frequent conversations between a variety of American national security officials and their French counterparts, including conversations between members of our intelligence community.”

Updated at 6:52 p.m.