Kerry cuts short Europe trip after breaking leg in bike crash

May 31, 2015 5:25 pm


John Kerry often heads out of his hotel to ride his bike during breaks in diplomatic negotiations/AFP
John Kerry often heads out of his hotel to ride his bike during breaks in diplomatic negotiations/AFP
GENEVA, Switzerland, US Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a cycling accident in France on Sunday and will fly back to the United States for treatment, cutting short a European trip.

Kerry, 71, a keen cyclist, was hospitalised in the Swiss city of Geneva after the accident across the border in the French Alps, the State Department said.

Kerry had just set out on a planned ride of one of the stages of the Tour de France, the challenging Col de la Colombiere mountain pass, a local source said.

The top US diplomat, who had been holding talks in Switzerland Saturday on the Iran nuclear crisis, broke his right femur in the accident 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, spokesman John Kirby said.

However Kirby said he planned on Tuesday to “remotely” join the Paris talks, which are aimed at reviewing the international coalition’s strategy against the jihadists who have seized swathes of territory in brutal offensives in Iraq and Syria.

“The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery,” he said in a statement.

“Given the injury is near the site of his prior hip surgery, he will return to Boston today to seek treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital with his doctor who did the prior surgery.”

Kerry had asked local officials in eastern France’s Haute-Savoi to organise 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.”

Scionzier resident Arfaoui Aymen, 29, reported seeing “police everywhere” following the accident, as well as a large official escort made up of Swiss police and French police and gendarmes.

Kerry was flown by helicopter to the Geneva University Hospital after the accident which occurred around 9:40am (0740 GMT).

“Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with the secretary’s motorcade at the time of the accident,” Kirby said.

Another State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kerry fell after hitting a kerb.

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.

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