As the crisis in Egypt unfolded this past week, a far more minor intrigue arose in Nantucket: Was Secretary of State John F. Kerry on a yacht Wednesday or not?
Briefly, he was.
On the same day that Egypt’s military ousted the country’s first democratically elected leader, a CBS News producer snapped a picture of a yacht and reported that Kerry was aboard. The State Department called that report “completely inaccurate” but did not elaborate on the secretary’s whereabouts, saying only that he was working all day and phoned in to a Situation Room meeting on Egypt that afternoon.
After the yacht photo was published, the Boston Herald began tracking Kerry’s whereabouts on the Massachusetts island. On Thursday, the paper photographed the former senator walking down Federal Street, following this with pictures of him getting into a kayak that same day.
“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said Friday, “Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day, including participating in the president’s meeting with his National Security Council and calls with Norwegian Foreign Minister Eade, Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Egyptian Constitution Party President ElBaradei and five calls to Ambassador Patterson on that day alone.”
An aide said Kerry was not on the boat during the Situation Room meeting or while working with Anne Patterson, the U.S. envoy to Cairo, or with foreign leaders.
Kerry had just returned from a two-week, 22,500-mile trip to Asia and the Middle East, his fifth to the region since taking his post in February. His main focus was on restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, as well as those in Syria.
On Thursday, Independence Day, Kerry held phone conversations with more foreign officials, including Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.