U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has refused to apologize for withering one-liners he's made about world leaders but he has won the support of Britain's closest ally as the country navigates its hard path out of the European Union. Kerry will later meet Britain's new Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Since then he has continued to court controversy, for example accusing U.S. President Barack Obama of nurturing an ancestral dislike for the British empire. He also wrote an obscene limerick about President Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
Earlier, Kerry had made a courtesy on Prime Minister Theresa May, becoming the first senior United States official to visit her since she took over last week from outgoing premier David Cameron.
Asked if he was going to apologize for remarks about world leaders, Johnson said, "We can spend an awfully long time going over lots of stuff that I've written over the last 30 years".
He was then asked if he wanted to retract his comments about Obama, or whether they were an indication of the kind of diplomacy he meant to practise in his new job.
Johnson insisted that everyone he had met since becoming Britain's top diplomat understood that his past utterances should be seen in the proper context of his career as a newspaper columnist and political campaigner. Reporters peppered him with questions, including whether he told "frankly outright lies" during the country's recent European Union.
As Kerry continued, Johnson interjected to laughter: "You can stop there".
France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will press for the need to step up strikes against Islamic State, after last week's massacre in Nice that left 84 people dead, his office said. He tried to brush off the first couple of questions with a prepared answer but became more irritated.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, whose country is halfway through a presidential campaign that will last most of this year, expressed astonishment on Tuesday at how quickly Britain has just changed leaders.
Speaking ahead of the meetings, Mr Johnson said: "We must be more active, more engaged and more outward-looking, so I am delighted to have this early opportunity to welcome my global counterparts to London for important meetings on the conflicts in Syria and Yemen".
The Secretary of State seemed keen to build up his new friend "Boris" and revealed that the USA ambassador to the European Union had been a contemporary of Johnson's at Oxford University and still spoke highly of him.