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Kerry makes first Latin America trip in office

John Kerry
Posted at 10:10 PM, Jun 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-04 18:18:57-04

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry is heading to Latin America for the first time since taking office, leading the U.S. delegation to a meeting of a 35-nation organization he once disparaged as ineffective and nearly irrelevant.

Kerry departs Tuesday for Guatemala to attend the Organization of American States' annual general assembly, where counternarcotics strategy and human rights are expected to be main topics of discussion. The OAS is often criticized in the United States, and Kerry wrote a scathing editorial about its failures and need to reform three years ago while he was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The State Department said Monday that Kerry believes the bloc is an organization of critical importance to the Western Hemisphere and is working to strengthen it.