Kerry appeals for diplomacy as he leaves State Department

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry applauds as he delivers farewell remarks to State Department employees at the State Department in Washington, U.S., on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 20 January 2017
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Kerry appeals for diplomacy as he leaves State Department

WASHINGTON: As Secretary of State John Kerry leaves the State Department, he is appealing to the incoming Trump administration to embrace creative diplomacy and international engagement.
Greeted by loud, raucous and sustained applause from a large crowd in the building’s ceremonial main entrance, Kerry thanked department employees for their dedication.
“We did really good diplomacy,” he said, citing what he called numerous significant achievements in fighting the Daesh group, addressing climate change, sealing the Iran nuclear deal, prioritizing Asia-Pacific relations, supporting European allies and making Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine.
Kerry, who set a record for miles traveled during his four-year tenure as America’s 68th top diplomat, thanked President Barack Obama for the privilege of serving, saying Obama had given him wide latitude to take risks in negotiating agreements or trying to start them.
“I want you to stay faithful to the notion that this building, all of you, that we together are going to continue to make ripples,” he said. “We are going to continue to make ripples to sweep down walls of resistance to peace and justice and a better and safer world.” Kerry said global turbulence was not due to any failure in leadership but was rather the result of profound transitions the world and its population are going through.
In an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Thursday, Kerry wrote: “My hope is that the turbulence still evident in the world does not obscure the extraordinary gains that diplomacy has made on President Obama’s watch or lead to the abandonment of approaches that have served our nation well.”
Kerry also criticized Trump’s penchant for tweeting controversial statements.
“Diplomacy requires creativity, patience and commitment to a steady grind, often away from the spotlight,” Kerry wrote. “Results are rarely immediate or reducible to 140-character bites. But it has helped build a world our ancestors would envy — a world in which children in most places are more likely than ever before to be born healthy, to receive an education and to live free from extreme poverty.”
Kerry logged more than 1.4 million miles in the air over 596 days of travel, the State Department said.


UN counterterrorism chief makes controversial trip to Xinjiang

Updated 25 min 4 sec ago
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UN counterterrorism chief makes controversial trip to Xinjiang

  • Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov traveled to Beijing and Xinjiang from Thursday to Saturday last week
  • The officials exchanged views on international counterterrorism efforts and reached “broad consensus”

BEIJING: The UN counterterrorism chief visited Xinjiang last week despite protests from the US and a rights group that the trip would be inappropriate in light of the human rights conditions in China’s far west region.
Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov traveled to Beijing and Xinjiang from Thursday to Saturday last week, said a statement Sunday from the Chinese foreign ministry. Voronkov and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng exchanged views on international counterterrorism efforts and reached “broad consensus,” the statement said.
The US, researchers and rights groups estimate that as many as 1 million ethnic Muslims may be arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang, home to the Uighur and Kazakh minority groups.
Former detainees have told The Associated Press that they were held without charge in “reeducation centers” where they were forced to denounce their faith and pledge loyalty to the ruling Communist Party. The Chinese government denies there is widespread abuse in these centers, which it says are vocational training schools aimed at combatting extremism and helping Xinjiang residents gain employable skills.
In a conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan conveyed “deep concerns” about Voronkov’s visit.
“Beijing continues to paint its repressive campaign against Uighurs and other Muslims as legitimate counterterrorism efforts when it is not,” Sullivan said, adding that Voronkov was putting the UN’s reputation and credibility at risk “by lending credence to these false claims.”
Human Rights Watch said Friday the UN should have sent a human rights expert instead of a counterterrorism official.
China’s foreign ministry did not provide details of Voronkov’s trip to Xinjiang.
“Counterterrorism cannot be linked to specific countries, ethnic groups and religions,” the ministry said in its Sunday statement. “It cannot adopt ‘double standards.’ China supports the UN in playing a central coordination role in international counterterrorism affairs.”