Remarks Upon Leaving Massachusetts General Hospital
Secretary of State
SECRETARY KERRY: Wow. It’s – where’s my gang here? It’s really wonderful just to get outdoors, see the summertime. I want to begin just by thanking the folks in Switzerland who did an absolutely extraordinary job of patching me up and shipping me home. And there’s not enough that I could say about the team here at Mass General. They’ve been absolutely extraordinary. Dr. Dennis Burke is a carpenter surgeon genius, and he and his team have been so attentive, unbelievably thoughtful. He’s put together a leg that was broken on the femur, and he tells me and I’m confident that I’ll be as good to go as I was before, if not stronger. So I look forward to that.
And especially important – I really want to thank all the folks – let’s give them a minute. I tell you, I’ve been listening to that a lot in the last few days, and it really reinforces in you how much is going on here at this hospital and the important lifesaving work that they do. What I wanted to say was just a huge word of gratitude to people I’d never met, people around the world, to my fellow foreign ministers, to friends – to great friends here in Massachusetts, all of whom encouraged me enormously and were in touch. And I’ll tell you, when you’re feeling a little down, that’s nice.
So I’m looking forward now to going home here in Boston for the weekend, being with my family. I head down to Washington next week. I had a long conversation today with the White House; yesterday with the President, as well as with my colleagues in the cabinet. And we, I think, have been making some critical decisions that are going to move the process forward in Iraq. We had a long conversation today about Iran, and I talked to our team in Vienna. I will be absolutely, fully, and totally engaged in those talks. I am now. I haven’t missed a tic. And I’ll be traveling over there at the appropriate moment in the next days in order to press forward at this critical moment of the negotiations.
So there’s a lot of work on the table. The one good thing I will tell you about being on your back for few days, it gives you time to think and it gives you clarity. And I’ve had a lot of time to think about some of the challenges that we face, some things we could perhaps tweak, things we need to do, and also to feel good about the things that I think we’re doing very well.
So on that note, I look forward to getting back to work and I’m grateful to all of you for coming out to say hello as I do so. I’d be happy to take a couple questions.
QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, it’s nice to see you up and at ‘em. Thanks for talking with us.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. It’s great to be.
QUESTION: As you well know, there was an alleged terror plot in Boston: three New England men accused of working to support ISIS. We had a Western Massachusetts native who went over to fight alongside the Kurds. Obviously, troops in Iraq could push further, General Dempsey says and you’ve mentioned. Could you talk to us a bit about the progress or momentum in fighting ISIS both here and abroad?
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah.
QUESTION: You say you had some clarity, some time to think about things that need to be tweaked.
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, look, we’ve been talking about the steps that we needed to take to up the effort really for months now, and we’ve been taking those steps on a periodic basis. President Obama just met with Prime Minister Abadi in Germany. We talked yesterday about that meeting. It was very productive. Prime Minister Abadi has a plan, and we support the plan and we’re part of the plan. And it involves bringing the tribal chiefs into the fight more. It involves bringing the Sunni into the government more. It involves bringing the police to the challenge of helping to support what you take back, the areas you take back. I think in Tikrit we’re going to see some very big progress shortly in terms of families moving back. I think on the Baiji refinery there’s progress being made.
This is a long slog. We have never said anything other than this is a long, tough slog. And what makes it tough partly – it’s not that the United States couldn’t go in tomorrow and do things. Of course we can. But no one in America believes that’s the way this fight is going to be held in the long run. Iraqis have to fight this fight, and we’re helping them to do that. And we believe we’re making the progress necessary on that score.
One thing I think we need to do better – more of – and it’s a very big challenge – you mentioned people from Massachusetts and the plot here and somebody who goes over to fight. We need to work even more effectively at our communications strategy within our coalition, and we’re going to do that. There are lots of things we’re looking at ourselves to be self-critical, and there’s more we know we can do.
QUESTION: Such as?
SECRETARY KERRY: You’ll see them as we do them.
MODERATOR: Bob, we’re going to go to you. This will be the last question.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did your absence have any impact on the Iran negotiations? Are you still hopeful about the end of the month timetable (inaudible)?
SECRETARY KERRY: Yeah. I’m absolutely driving for the end of the month. I think it’s critical for a lot of different reasons. And the answer is no, my absence really wasn’t an absence in the sense of I had no plans to be personally involved with my foreign minister counterparts until a week or two from now. Our team is in Vienna now working out very complex annexes, details of this agreement. It’s a tough slog. It’s not easy.
And I was in touch for an hour and a half today on a secure telephone call as we discussed it. That’s not the first in the last few days. We had – I had a long discussion with President Obama about it yesterday. And I am absolutely confident. I have a major meeting with the Chinese called the Security – Economic & Security Dialogue. We will have Chinese leaders coming to Washington in a week. We’ll have a two-day session with them – very, very in-depth – a dinner at Mount Vernon, and afterwards, I will be leaving to go for the last slog on the Iran talks.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is this going to (inaudible) --
MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all.
MODERATOR: We have to get going.
QUESTION: -- (inaudible) schedule at all?
SECRETARY KERRY: Folks, I got to – what?
QUESTION: Is this going to change your grueling schedule at all (inaudible) you’re in?
SECRETARY KERRY: No.
QUESTION: What about your exercise routine?
SECRETARY KERRY: What do you mean, the condition I’m in? (Laughter.) I’m on rehab time. But I love doing physical therapy, so – I don’t like doing it with a gimpy leg, but that’s what I got to do for a little bit here. So I’m going to do my physical therapy, I’ll be on these sticks for a little while, I’m going to behave and do what Dennis Burke has ordered me to do. But no, I’m going to be back riding a bike and enjoying sports like others, and I’m blessed that I’m able to be, and I’m very grateful to the team here for making that possible.
So thank you all. I got to get back home. I got my wife and my dog Ben. I want to get home. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.