Kerry refuses to comment on Falklands’ referendum; US position remains unchanged
Starting in London his first trip overseas as the new US Secretary of State, John Kerry kept strictly to US policy on the Falkland Islands and refused to comment on the coming referendum when Islanders are expected to decide on their political status and future.
At a press conference in the Foreign Office, standing alongside Hague Secretary of State Kerry insisted the US position on the Falklands had not changed.
“We continue to urge a peaceful resolution of this critical issue. Let me be very clear about our position with respect to the Falklands, which I believe is clear.
“First of all, I’m not going to comment, nor is the President, on a referendum that has yet to take place, hasn’t taken place.
“Our position on the Falklands has not changed. The United States recognizes de facto UK administration of the Islands but takes no position on the question of parties’ sovereignty claims thereto.
“We support co-operation between UK and Argentina on practical matters”.
Nevertheless the trip of the Secretary of State was considered a plus for British diplomacy since PM Cameron became the first world leader to meet with Mr Kerry since his appointment, at the start of an 11-day tour of Europe and the Middle East.
At a meeting in Downing Street Monday morning the two men discussed a new transatlantic trade deal between the US and the EU, before touching on Syria, the Arab Spring and the Middle East Peace Process.
Mr Kerry’s decision to use his first foreign trip since replacing Hillary Clinton to visit London is being seen as significant. Mrs. Clinton traveled first to Asia after taking office.
Mr Kerry said: 'This is no accident that this is the first stop of my trip as Secretary of State.'
Officials said the decision to start the trip in Europe starting ‘underscores the degree to which we have common interests and values with our key European partners, the degree to which we work so closely together in meeting the enormous challenges that we both face around the world’.
But it comes after transatlantic relations were strained when President Barack Obama and other senior US figures warned against Britain leaving the European Union.
Downing Street said that Mr. Kerry did not raise the issue of Britain's possible exit from the European Union as a result of the referendum promised by PM Cameron during the next Parliament.
PM Cameron and Mr. Kerry agreed on ‘the importance of restarting a “viable peace process” in the Middle East, said the spokesman. And he said they discussed ‘the challenges posed by fragile states around the world and how the US and UK will continue to work together on these issues’.
They also discussed the situations in Egypt and Libya following the fall of long-standing regimes as a result of the Arab Spring.
But the issue of the Falklands was not raised, said Mr. Cameron's official spokesman.
Mr Kerry, who took office as Secretary of State at the start of this month following the resignation of Hillary Clinton, is also due to visit Berlin, Paris, Rome, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha during the current tour.