Early in the morning of Sunday, April 7, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Istanbul, which marked his second visit as Secretary of State to Turkey. Secretary Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, whom President Obama will host at the White House in May. Secretary Kerry and the Turkish officials discussed a range of issues, including the crisis in Syria and regional peace and security.
Amidst these meetings, though, Secretary Kerry began his day by speaking with U.S. Consulate General Istanbul staff and families. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry movingly remembered Foreign Service Officer Anne Smedinghoff, whose life was tragically taken from her Saturday during an attack in Afghanistan. When struck by this terrible act, Anne and her American and Afghan colleagues were en route to donate books to students in a school in Qalat. There are no words to describe what happened in Afghanistan. Anne believed in the possibility of diplomacy to change peoples' lives, and the entire State Department family is devastated by this loss.
The Secretary's words particularly resonated with the U.S. Mission Turkey staff and families, as we remember our colleague Mustafa Akarsu, who bravely gave his life preventing others from being harmed in a suicide attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara less than two months ago. On the Secretary's first trip to Turkey, he participated in a memorial service for Mustafa. As the Secretary asserted, it is now up to us to determine what the legacy of these tragedies will be. He said, "Where others seek to destroy, we intend to show a stronger determination in order to brighten our shared future, even when others try to darken it with violence."
Anne volunteered for a dangerous diplomatic assignment because she believed that diplomacy could help provide people with a better future. As Secretary Kerry said, "Everything that our country stands for, everything we stand for, is embodied in what Anne Smedinghoff stood for."
Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.