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John Kerry Shows Off French in First Overseas Trip

By February 27, 2013

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kerryIt's well-known in Washington that former Sen. John Kerry has wanted the secretary of State job really badly. And now that he's succeeded Hillary Clinton in President Obama's second term, he seems to be having a blast. He's currently out on his first overseas trip -- hitting the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar -- in which he spoke a bit of German in Berlin and just busted out the French:

On a visit to Paris Wednesday, new US Secretary of State John Kerry wowed reporters by speaking in French, the language of his childhood summers in Brittany.

"We just finished one of those wonderful French lunches that have been drawing Americans to Paris for centuries," Kerry said en francais at a joint press conference with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

"Of course, it?s a privilege to share any meal with Laurent...France, as you know, is the oldest ally of the United States."

"And now I will speak in English, because otherwise I would not be allowed to return back home," Kerry concluded, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Kerry, who spent part of his childhood at a Swiss boarding school, is known to speak the language well -- but his ability has not fared well for him in US politics.

During his 2004 presidential campaign, Kerry came under attack from opponents because of his knowledge of French at a time when US-French ties had soured over the war in Iraq.

It's a change from earlier this month, when he shrugged off speaking in tongues:

Even though it was long the language of global diplomacy, new US Secretary of State John Kerry laughingly refused to try out his rusty French before the bilingual Canadian press on Friday.

"Not today. I got to refresh myself on that," Kerry said at his first press conference when a Canadian reporter asked him to reply to a question with "a little bit of French, please."

Kerry, who spent part of his childhood at a Swiss boarding school, is known to speak the language well, and he obviously had no hesitation in understanding the question posed in French.


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