State Department reversal: John Kerry was on yacht during Morsi ouster

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The State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry briefly boarded his private yacht at the same time of the Egypt’s military ouster of President Mohammed Morsi — a drastic switch from denials earlier this week that Mr. Kerry was ever aboard the boat.

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday, Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day including participating in the president’s meeting with his national security council,” Kerry spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday, Politico reported.

Ms. Psaki added that Mr. Kerry spoke on the phone “with Norwegian Foreign Minister Eade, Qatari Foreign Minister al-Attiyah, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, Egyptian Constitution Party President ElBaradei and five calls Ambassador Patterson on that day alone and since then he continued to make calls to leaders including Emirati Foreign Minister bin Zayed, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr.”

The story broke Wednesday when Mosheh Oinounou, the senior producer for “CBS This Morning” tweeted a photo of Mr. Kerry aboard his yacht. Mr. Oinounou said that the State Department disputed the claim and that Mr. Kerry was working hard on issues related to Egypt.

Mr. Oinouou then tweeted: “For the record, the fact he was working on Egypt issues all day and also happens to be in Nantucket are not mutually exclusive.”

WBZ-TV in Boston picked up the report, including the State Department’s rebuttal. Ms. Psaki issued a saying, “Since his plane touched down in Washington at 4 a.m., Secretary Kerry was working all day and on the phone dealing with the crisis in Egypt.”

The White House released a photo of President Obama discussing the Egypt affair with his national security team, minus Mr. Kerry. But Ms. Psaki clarified: “He participated in the White House meeting with the president by secure phone and was and is in non-stop contact with foreign leaders, and his senior team in Washington and Cairo. Any report or tweet that he was on a boat is completely inaccurate.”

Earlier in the day, the State Department refused to address the question of Mr. Kerry’s whereabouts, only saying that he was apprised of all talk at the White House.

“The secretary’s department is in touch with officials regarding the developments in Egypt at all levels at all times,” the department’s press secretary Beth Gosselin said in a statement, WBZ reported.

CBS didn’t retracting the story, though, and the State Department eventually relented.

The public relations hit comes a day after Mr. Kerry made another political misstep that seemed to indicate he wasn’t entirely clear on the situation in Egypt.

On Tuesday, Mr. Kerry called his counterpart in Egypt, Mohamed Kamel Amr, asking if he was still foreign minister, the Wall Street Journal reported. Mr. Amr had resigned hours earlier, and was only staying on in an unofficial capacity.

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