Why John Kerry stayed back 2 more days in India

As prospects of a US-Russia deal on Syria brightened, US President Barack Obama is said to have asked Kerry to join him at the G-20 summit.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: September 3, 2016 9:55:50 am
kerry, john kerry, john kerry delhi, john kerry india, abdel al sisi, egypt, egypt president india, g20, g20 summit, us news, india news Heavy security outside the hotel in Delhi where John Kerry has been staying. (Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

Possibly the most travelled foreign minister in the world, US Secretary of State John Kerry was cooling his heels in Delhi for two additional days at the end of his two-day official visit. While this is unusual for an American Secretary of State, Kerry is learnt to have used this time doing some diplomacy, some shopping, and catching up on some rest.

Since February 2013, Kerry has travelled to 88 countries — many of them, including India, on multiple occasions — and has so far clocked 12,41,724 miles and travelled 532 days.

According to officials, Kerry was scheduled to leave India on Wednesday evening, but as prospects of a US-Russia deal on Syria brightened, US President Barack Obama is said to have asked Kerry to join him at the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

While Obama is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Kerry may have to do some deft diplomacy with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, who is also expected to be present.

Another reason being cited is that Obama has received several requests from world leaders, and other notables, for bilateral meetings since this will be his last G-20 summit, and Kerry can stand in for some of these bilateral meets, if a situation arises.

Having extended his stay in Delhi, Kerry is learnt to have had a telephone conversation with Lavrov on Wednesday evening itself. US State department officials told the American travelling media that the two leaders discussed Syria, without elaborating further.

“There were a lot of such phone calls and conversations with Washington and other world capitals during the two days,” a source said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi landed in Delhi for a three-day visit on Thursday evening, and Kerry was the first to meet him. According to a US State Department statement, they discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, including Syria, Libya, and Middle East peace.

While it is not known what his schedule was on Friday, Kerry is understood to have visited the Cottage Emporium — the go-to place for Indian handicraft and mementos. He also spent some time resting, as he was at the end of a long, 14-day trip.

With Kerry facing traffic chaos due to the showers in Delhi on the first two days of his visit — prompting him to make a jibe whether IIT students came on boats to listen to him — an Indian official quipped, “Hope his extra days of stay have made a better impression.”

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