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Rzeczpospolita, Poland

John Kerry: First Weekend on the Phone

By Tomasz Deptuła

Translated By Michał Bolek

4 February 2013

Edited by Rachel Smith

Poland - Rzeczpospolita - Original Article (Polish)

The new U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, energetically began his new job.

Hilary Clinton’s successor, who was sworn into office last Friday, spent a whole weekend on the telephone in talks with politicians from different countries. On Monday, the first workday of his term, he met his staff, the same who enthusiastically said goodbye to Clinton a couple of days ago.

There is no doubt that the signal John Kerry wanted to send to the world is that American diplomacy under his management won’t be less active than during Hilary Clinton’s term. “He has great faith in the power of diplomatic engagement”, commented Nicholas Burns, the former U.S. ambassador to NATO. The clearest evidence could be his first talks with politicians from the Middle East. This is a region in which Mrs. Clinton’s diplomacy was relatively inactive.

He started the weekend with talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, assuring them that Barack Obama’s administration wants to continue the Middle East peace dialogue. He promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. won’t give up the fundamental purpose of their diplomacy, guaranteeing the security of Israel. He assured President Mahmoud Abbas that the administration will put pressure on Congress to allocate some money to help the Palestinian Authority. He talked about the conflict in Syria with the chief of Turkish diplomacy.

He also talked with the chief diplomats of the United States’ neighbors – Canada and Mexico. He brought up the security problems on the Korean Peninsula with the foreign ministers of Japan and North Korea. All three are said to have agreed that Pyongyang should understand that it will suffer serious consequences for deliberate provocations.

In spite of President Obama’s assurances that Kerry doesn’t need any additional training after 30 years of public service and work in the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the new secretary of state also called all his living predecessors to ask them for advice. He also found time to have lunch with George Shultz, the chief of diplomacy in Ronald Reagan’s Republican administration.



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