John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has cancelled the remainder of his European diplomatic tour after breaking his leg in a bicycle crash on Sunday morning near Geneva, where he had been holding nuclear talks with Iran’s foreign minister.
The US State Department said Mr Kerry was in a stable condition but had broken his right femur in the accident and was flying back to the US. Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and he never lost consciousness.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said Mr Kerry was expected to make a full recovery. The injury is near the site of a previous hip surgery, he said, so Mr Kerry will return to Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital to be treated by the doctor who performed that surgery.
Mr Kerry, who often cycles while on diplomatic trips, had planned to travel to Madrid on Sunday before going to Paris for a conference on combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis. Mr Kirby said Mr Kerry planned to participate in the conference remotely.
It comes as negotiations between world powers and Iran enter a crucial phase, with both sides working to seal a comprehensive accord by June 30 to limit the country’s atomic programme in return for lifting international sanctions.
The accident took place on Sunday morning near Scionzier, France, around 40km southeast of the Swiss border. Mr Kerry, who is 71, was taken to Geneva’s main hospital, HUG, where X-rays were taken of his injured right leg.
Mr Kerry on Saturday met Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, in a Geneva hotel. Speaking on Saturday, Mr Zarif implied that there had been no major breakthrough and that the talks would continue.
“We have decided to work full time for the next three or four weeks to see whether or not it will be possible to reach an agreement,” Mr Zarif was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency Mehr.
Last week Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, raised tensions by saying that the country would not allow foreigners to inspect sensitive military sites or quiz its nuclear scientists.
An enhanced oversight regime for Iran’s nuclear experts would be “an insult to their integrity”, the country’s top decision maker told senior commanders and military academy graduates in a speech.
His remarks appear to pit Iran against the P5+1 — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany — after months of productive negotiations now entering their final straight.
The world powers have long insisted that close scrutiny of Iran’s research facilities by international inspectors will be essential to any nuclear deal with Iran. Tehran says scrutiny cannot extend to military sites.