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Guessing game on why John Kerry stayed longer in India

What can a US secretary of state be doing when he goes off radar in a third country? John Kerry’s sudden decision to idle away two days in New Delhi before heading to the G-20 summit in China has all the conspiracy theorists in full play.

world Updated: Sep 02, 2016 10:15 IST
Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
US secretary of state John Kerry meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in New Delhi.
US secretary of state John Kerry meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in New Delhi.(AP Photo)

What can a US secretary of state be doing when he goes off radar in a third country? John Kerry’s sudden decision to idle away two days in New Delhi before heading to the G-20 summit in China has all the conspiracy theorists in full play.

In New Delhi, the buzz was that Kerry was making a secret trip to Kabul to greet US soldiers there or hold confabulations with the Afghan government.

Others thought he may have flown to Pakistan to meet the Pakistani army chief, General Raheel Sharif, and apologise for saying there was no difference between good and bad terrorists. The Pakistani media, on the other hand, were working themselves into a frenzy about Kerry – but with a different slant.

Read | You must have needed boats: John Kerry jokes at IIT on Delhi rain

“They think the US and India are negotiating a secret alliance,” said an amused US official.

Various sources indicated that Kerry was doing little other than relaxing at the Leela hotel where he and his party are staying.

US secretary of state John F Kerry leaves after an interactive programme at IIT Delhi. (PTI Photo)

He may be hoping the weather will let up so he can go ahead with original plan of visiting shrines of three different Indian religions, said one diplomatic source.

On Wednesday, Kerry had joked about the heavy rainfall that flooded Delhi’s roads.

“Don’t know how you all got here. You must’ve needed boats to get here,” Kerry told the gathering of students.

There are some grounds for conspiracies about Kerry’s itinerary. Henry Kissinger disappeared for a few days in Pakistan, claiming illness, and made the secret visit to Beijing that paved the way for US President Richard Nixon’s historical trip to China. US presidents and British prime ministers regularly made unscheduled stops in Kabul during the peak of the fighting there.

In this case, however, it seems the foreign policy chief of the sole superpower simply decided he, and the world, could afford him taking 48 hours away from the international spotlight.

Read | John Kerry had a ‘terrific’ time in India despite Delhi rains, traffic: Kirby