June 1, 2015 / 1:58 PM / 3 years ago

Kerry heads home on U.S. military plane after breaking his leg

GENEVA (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Europe for the United States aboard a special military aircraft on Monday after breaking his leg in a cycling accident.

A general view of the Geneva University Hospital (HUG) in Geneva, Switzerland, May 31, 2015. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

Kerry, 71, broke his right femur on Sunday while cycling a portion of the Tour de France route in the Haute Savoie region. He spent the night in a Geneva hospital under observation while his evacuation was planned.

Kerry had been in Geneva for negotiations on Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and after the accident has had to cancel planned visits to Madrid and Paris.

The C-17 military aircraft, brought from the U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany, departed Geneva’s Cointrin airport shortly before 1600 GMT (1200 ET), Reuters witnesses said, bound for Kerry’s home city of Boston.

“Headed back to Boston. Look fwd to getting leg set & getting back to @StateDept! Meantime, work goes on. Big thanks for well-wishes,” Kerry tweeted minutes after departure.

Earlier, Kerry told French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius he would participate by telephone in a summit on Tuesday in Paris bringing together some two dozen countries to discuss the U.S.-led coalition’s strategy against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

Kerry also assured Fabius he would return to cycle again in France, French officials said.

The secretary had been due to travel to Spain on Sunday to sign a bilateral defense agreement that would allow the United States to have permanent use of Moron air base near Seville.

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Geneva said Dennis Burke, a doctor from Massachusetts General Hospital, was accompanying Kerry on the flight back to Boston.

Burke, who has previously performed hip surgery on Kerry, flew to Geneva on Monday to evaluate the secretary’s femur.

Kerry’s spokesman John Kirby said the aircraft would be “staffed by additional military medical personnel in keeping with standard practice.”

Kerry was brought to Geneva hospital by helicopter on Sunday morning and had initially been expected to return to the United States that evening but stayed on as a “precaution”, officials said.

additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Arshad Mohammed in Washington and John Irish in Paris; editing by Gareth Jones

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