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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's First Overseas Trip


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's First Overseas Trip

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry holds a conversation with a group of invited young people as part of his Youth Connect series of discussions on Feb. 26, 2013, in Berlin, Germany.

(Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
After being sworn in to replace Hillary Clinton as the new U.S. secretary of State, former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry left on a trip to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Here are some of his remarks along the way.


"Let me make clear, we will continue to work closely with our British allies to address the growing humanitarian crisis, and to support the Syrian Opposition Council. We are coordinating with the Syrian Opposition Coalition, we’re coordinating with the UN, and with others in order to help get relief to the victims who need that help.

[British Foreign Secretary] William [Hague] and I also today discussed on a couple of occasions Iran’s nuclear program and tomorrow’s P-5+1 talks with Iran that take place in Kazakhstan. As we’ve said again and again, an Iran with a nuclear weapon in that region, and given all that has happened, is simply unacceptable. And we have stated that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon. President Obama has been crystal clear about this. And as we’ve repeatedly made clear, the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open forever. But it is open today. It is open now. And there is still time, but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith. We are prepared to negotiate in good faith, in mutual respect, in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences could follow failure. And so the choice really is in the hands of the Iranians, and we hope they will make the right choice."


At a youth townhall when asked a question by a member of a Muslim youth group: “As a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view. I mean, some people have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade, even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another. And the reason is that that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be, and you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be, and we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for.”

“...And unfortunately, in too many parts of the world, some religions – not – and I’m not just speaking of one religion or another. You have intolerance in a number of different kinds of religions or points of view in different things. I know that Islam is not represented by a lot of jihadists and others. I know it’s a beautiful religion. I’ve read more and more about it,” he said. I’ve been reading a book recently called No god but God, which is the history of the Prophet and where he came from and how it developed as a religion. It’s fascinating. If I went back to college today, I’d probably go back and be a comparative religion major and a comparative literature major, because those are the things that help you understand what makes people tick and how they’re working and how they think. But the important thing is to have the tolerance to say you can have a different point of view.”


"A strong economy will also give us the strength to move forward on one of our biggest responsibilities that we share today, and that is quite simply the one that Laurent referred to in his comments about our global responsibilities on the environment, that we have a responsibility to leave our children and our grandchildren a healthier planet. And we intend to work to do so. There might be no other issue that so clearly underscores what one country does matters to other countries around the world. What goes up out of the smokestacks of one country travels around the globe and falls on other countries and affects their lives and livelihood. Smart investments in a cleaner climate create good jobs, new cars, new railways, new houses, and entire new industries. I would remind everybody that the marketplace that made America very wealthy in the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users. The energy marketplace that stares at us as the solution to climate is a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users today, and that will grow to nine over the course of the next 40 or so years. This is the future, and it’s important for us to grab it."

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