World & Nation

John Kerry breaks leg in bike accident after Iran nuclear talks, will fly home


Secretary of State John Kerry, second from left, rides his bicyle in March during talks in Switzerland over Iran’s nuclear program. Kerry broke his right leg in a bike accident Sunday, officials said.


(Fabrice Coffrini / AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State John F. Kerry was scheduled to fly Monday to a Boston hospital after breaking his leg in a bicycling accident in Europe, cutting short a diplomatic trip focused on nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Kerry, 71, broke his right femur early Sunday, said John Kirby, a State Department spokesman. The break is near the site of a prior hip replacement surgery, Kirby said.

The secretary’s injury is “not life-threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery,” Kirby said in a statement. He said Kerry was in “good spirits.”

Kerry had initially planned on flying back to the U.S. on Sunday evening, but Kirby said later Sunday that “after further consultation it was sensible for him to remain in the hospital for observation overnight for purely precautionary measures and fly home tomorrow.”


It is unclear how quickly Kerry will be able to resume traveling. But the secretary is already signaling that he will try not to let the accident interrupt his usual intense work schedule.

He is planning to join by teleconference a meeting in Paris on Tuesday of foreign ministers who are part of the coalition against the Islamic State militant group.

Kerry has stepped up his role in the Iran talks this year. The United States and five other world powers are trying to complete a deal by June 30. Kerry met Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva for all-day talks.

Yet the U.S. effort involves a large team and is personally guided by President Obama and White House aides. They keep close tabs on Kerry’s negotiating positions, staying in touch before he begins bargaining sessions, and debriefing him afterward, say administration officials.


The talks are expected to reach a grueling pace as the deadline approaches. Diplomats are already predicting that they could be extended at least a few days beyond the deadline, and there is speculation that they could be dragged out several additional weeks.

The key issues for final bargaining appear to be the pace at which sanctions against Iran will be lifted and how much, and under what conditions, Iran will be required to open suspected nuclear sites to international inspections. Many of the sites are on military bases, which Iran is reluctant to let foreign officials see.

Diplomats and outside analysts are now predicting that chances are good a deal will be reached.

Because of the accident, Kerry canceled meetings with Spanish officials planned for Sunday.

Kerry is to be transported to Massachusetts General Hospital in a specially equipped plane “outfitted to ensure he remains comfortable and stable throughout the flight,” Kirby said. He said use of the plane is “nothing more than a prudent medical step on the advice of physicians.”

Kerry, an avid cyclist who brings his bike and cycling clothing with him on overseas trips, was bicycling in the town of Scionzier, France, just across the border from Geneva. He had set off to climb through an Alpine pass that is part of the Tour de France route.

When the accident happened, however, Kerry was traveling slowly on flat ground, the French news service Agence France Presse reported. His bicycle tire appears to have hit a curb, causing him to fall, local officials told the news service.

For more on U.S. foreign policy, follow @RichtPau.


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