Thursday 25 December 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry forced to take train over air traffic control strike

Published 25/06/2014 | 22:50

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, grounded by an air controllers' work stoppage at Brussels airport, hopped on a train for Paris late Wednesday to meet Middle Eastern foreign ministers.

The two-hour stoppage disrupted air traffic at Brussels airport where Kerry's plane was waiting to take him to Paris for talks on Thursday that will focus on the regional repercussions of the insurgency by Sunni militants in Iraq.

"Due to a potential delay in flights departing Brussels as a result of an air traffic control strike, Secretary Kerry will take the train from Brussels to Paris this evening," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said before he left Brussels.

The Brussels Airport website said no flights would take off or land between 6:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. because of the stoppage.

Kerry, who was attending a meeting at NATO headquarters where foreign ministers were dealing with the crisis in Ukraine, left for the train station immediately after a news conference.

He boarded a 6:13 p.m. train headed for Paris' Gare du Nord accompanied by his security and top staff, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland.

Kerry spent the hour-and-22-minute ride talking to his aides about world events and the history of the French countryside he traveled through, according to a reporter traveling with Kerry.

Kerry's family ancestral estate is in Saint Briac, Brittany where he spent summers as a child and learned to speak French.

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