John Kerry breaks his leg: setback for US foreign policy exercises!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
US Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bicycle crash yesterday, May 20 in France after striking a curb and scrapped the rest of a four-nation trip that included an international conference on combating the Islamic State group. He had planned to return to the United States on Monday. Kerry was flown by helicopter to the Geneva University Hospital after the accident which occurred around 9:40 am (0740 GMT).
Kerry, 71, a keen cyclist, fractured his right femur after crashing his bike near Scionzier, France, about 40 kilometers southeast of the Swiss border, cutting short a European trip. Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and provided him with immediate attention. They quickly decided to call in a helicopter to transport him to Geneva’s main medical center, HUG, where X-rays confirmed the extent of his injury. The top US diplomat, who had been holding talks in Switzerland Saturday on the Iran nuclear crisis, broke his right femur in his fall in the village of Scionzier near Chamonix.
He has had to cancel both a trip to Spain and his attendance at an international meeting in Paris on the crisis over the Islamic State group
Kerry had asked local officials in eastern France’s Haute-Savoi to organize the trip in the beautiful Alpine region. “He had expressed a wish, a few days ago, to complete a stage of the Tour de France passing through the Col de la Colombiere. The hill is very well-known for its difficulty, and because he loves France and cycling, he decided to climb it on his bicycle,” the local source said. “He fell accidentally, like all other cyclists have at some point.”
The lanky Kerry has become a recognizable figure as a regular globetrotter since taking office as Secretary of State in February 2013. During breaks from negotiations, he has often headed out of his hotel to ride his bike – which he usually brings along on his foreign missions – accompanied by a posse of security guards.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry was staying overnight in a Swiss hospital overnight as a precaution, before flying to Boston for further treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery,” Kirby said in a statement, “the secretary continues to be in great spirits and active,” Kirby said, Kerry has done a range of phone calls including with the president Obama. Scionzier resident Arfaoui Aymen, 29, reported seeing “police everywhere” following the accident.
Kerry’s regular plane flew back from Geneva to the United States on Sunday, carrying much of his staff and reporters who had accompanied him on the trip. The secretary of state planned to board a plane later in the day with special medical equipment “to ensure he remains comfortable and stable throughout the flight,” Kirby said. But on the advice of doctors, Kerry remained in Geneva’s hospital another night. Kerry decided to seek treatment in Boston because the fracture is near the site of his earlier hip surgery. Kirby said he’d be attended to by the same doctor who performed that operation. Kerry’s cycling rides have become a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday. A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kerry fell after hitting a kerb.
According to media reports, Kerry fell near the beginning of his ride to the famed mountain pass called the Col de la Colombiere, which has been a route for the Tour de France more than a dozen times. Right around the time of his fall, a Twitter feed about local driving conditions warned of the danger due to gravel along the pass. But US officials said there was no gravel on the road where the accident occurred. According to a newspaper, some Haute Savoie officials were with Kerry at the time, including the head of the region.
With a busy schedule, Kerry had been in Geneva for six hours of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on may 30 Saturday as the sides now work to seal a comprehensive accord by 30 June. During discussions in late March and early April between world powers and Iran, Kerry took several bike trips during breaks. Those talks were in Lausanne, Switzerland, and led to a framework agreement.
The prospect of a lengthy rehabilitation could hamper the nuclear talks and other diplomatic endeavors. Even if Kerry does not need surgery, it was not immediately known when he could fly again after returning to the United States. He will participate in the Paris conference remotely, Kirby said, while Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken will replace him. John Allen, the retired general who is President Barack Obama’s envoy for the global coalition against the extremist group, also is attending.
Kerry has been the lead negotiator in several marathon sessions with Iran going back to 2013. The injury could affect other potential missions, such as one to the Cuban capital to raise the flag at a restored US Embassy. As for his current trip, Kerry was scheduled to travel to Madrid on Sunday for meetings with Spain’s king and prime minister, before spending two days in Paris for an international gathering to combat the Islamic States, who have seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
Kerry held talks Saturday in Geneva with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif as part of international efforts to secure a landmark nuclear deal ahead of a June 30 deadline. The talks did not go into a second day as planned after Tehran rejected a key Western demand for site inspections. There are heightened diplomatic moves to try to end a 12-year international standoff and put a nuclear bomb beyond Iran’s reach.
Spain and the United States were to formalize an agreement under which Spain will host a permanent force of 2,200 US Marines for deployment on missions to Africa. “The secretary very much regrets not being able to visit Spain to meet with one of our close allies for discussions on a range of issues, as well as being unable to attend the counter-ISIL coalition ministerial meeting on Tuesday in Paris in person,” Kirby said. Kerry’s British counterpart Philip Hammond meanwhile expressed his concern “Hoping you make a speedy recovery and are back on the road soon,” he tweeted.
Obviously with a broken leg, Kerry won’t be able to negotiate a durable settlement of Palestine issue in the near future mainly because Israel does not seek peace in Mideast. Israeli leadership would now argue Kerry with a broken leg cannot arm-twist Israel to agree for a Palestine state!!