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Kerry Offers to Help Start Trump Admin 'Off on the Right Footing'

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Secretary of State John Kerry said he instructed State Department personnel this morning to keep pressing forward with the administration’s foreign policy goals until Inauguration Day and to prepare for the “amazing peaceful transfer of power” enshrined in America’s “beautiful” democracy.

Meeting with Foreign Minister Murray McCully in Christchurch, New Zealand, today, Kerry deviated from remarks on the bilateral relationship to note the “momentous election” on Tuesday.

“I want to offer my congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump and wish him well for the American people, for him, for his family, on the enormous challenges that he will undertake to resolve, to meet, with the same spirit, I hope, that characterizes every presidency, Republican or Democrat, to protect the interests of our people and uphold the values of our country,” Kerry said.

He also expressed “appreciation and respect” for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I know how hard she fought. I know what it takes out of a family, having been there and done that,” the 2004 Democratic Party nominee said.

“With a transition like this, the issues that we face don’t go away. The values with which we face them are the same values the day after the election that they were the day before. And so I sent a note to all of our personnel within the State Department this morning reiterating what I have said to them personally before I left the country to come here, and that is that we have a time-honored tradition of a very peaceful and constructive transfer of power within administrations when that occurs in the United States,” he said. “And I have instructed everybody in the State Department to make sure that while the issues still are in front of us, we will continue to work every day between now and January 20th in order to further the interests of our country, protect the safety and security of our people, and guarantee that we address those issues and concerns, which are the same today as they were the day before the election.”

“That means making people safer, working to continue to build relationships, which is why I’m here, and continuing to work not just for the United States but for the better prosperity and stability and security of people all around the world.”

Kerry said he also instructed his staff to work on the transition itself. “And we will do everything in our power, as I have instructed our team, to work with the incoming administration as fully and openly as possible, to be as helpful as possible, so that the transfer of power will be as smooth as it possibly can without missing a beat on the important issues before us,” he said.

“And I am absolutely confident that the people of the world will be able to measure an elegant and graceful process which meets the highest standards of democracy and also I hope will help to set the administration, the new administration, off on the right footing, which is so important to our friends everywhere.”