Tuesday, June 19, 2018
News Roundup

Kerry consoles family of Foreign Service officer killed in Afghanistan

CHICAGO — Secretary of State John Kerry met Monday with the family of a 25-year-old Foreign Service officer who was killed by a suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan nine days earlier.

Kerry's meeting with the family of Anne Smedinghoff was closed to reporters, and the State Department declined to offer details of the private talks.

The meeting provided Kerry an opportunity to express a personal sense of loss to Smedinghoff's parents, with whom Kerry spoke by phone when he first learned of the death shortly after it occurred April 6.

Kerry met Smedinghoff a week before her death, when she was assigned to accompany him on a brief visit to Afghanistan, and he eulogized her several times during a 10-day trip to Jerusalem, London, Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo. It was on his return from Tokyo to Washington that Kerry made a previously unscheduled stop in Chicago to meet with Smedinghoff's family.

Smedinghoff, an assistant press officer in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, died when a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives outside a U.S. base in Qalat, Afghanistan, as she and perhaps a dozen other people were assembling for a ceremony to mark the donation of children's books to a school. The attack also killed three U.S. service members, a U.S. civilian who worked for the Defense Department and an Afghan doctor.

Meanwhile, a State Department spokesman said that while the bombing was being investigated by the FBI, the Defense Department and State Department Diplomatic Security, there would be no administrative review board convened to investigate its circumstances. A review panel that looked into the events leading up to the death in Libya of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens concluded that department middle managers and poor communications were responsible for the security lapses that led to his death.

Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said U.S. law specifically exempts events in Iraq and Afghanistan from such an investigation.

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