Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

US Secretary of State John Kerry congratulates Trump on win

United States Secretary of State John Kerry has today congratulated US President Elect Donald Trump on his victory and vowed to help make his transition to the White House as smooth as possible.

After his flight to Antarctica was delayed today because of bad weather on the ice, Kerry took the sudden free time to meet with Foreign Minister Murray McCully at The George Hotel in central Christchurch.

Ahead of the meeting, he spoke to a small group of assembled media on this thoughts on the "momentous election" yesterday.

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

"I also want to express my appreciation in respect to my former colleague and friend and former Secretary, Hillary Clinton. I know how hard she fought. I know what it takes out of a family, having been there and done that, and I greatly appreciate her gracious comments today. And I'm confident that she and [former president Bill] Clinton will continue to contribute in so many ways."

This morning, Kerry sent a note to US State Department staff urging them to assist with the "time honoured tradition of a very peaceful and constructive transfer of power within administrations".

"[I] have instructed everyone at the State Department to ensure that we will continue to work every day between now and January 20 in order to further the interests of the US and protect the safety and security of our people and guarantee we work to make people safer and working to build relationships and continue to work not just for the United States but for better prosperity and stability and security of people all around world."

Kerry is "absolutely confident" that the world will witness "an elegant, graceful process that meets the highest standards of democracy" and help set the Trump administration "off on the right footing, which is so important to our friends everywhere".

McCully met Kerry for about 40 minutes behind closed doors this morning where they discussed topics high on the UN Security Council agenda, including the Syria crisis.

"As you'll have observed, things haven't really got much better there. We remain on the case and we've had a chance to compare notes on that today," McCully said.

McCully said he also reinforced Prime Minister John Key's congratulations to Trump, and assured the US that "the excellent relationship that we have enjoyed with Secretary Kerry and President Obama is something that we wish to maintain" as the US goes through its transition process.

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was not a major topic of conversation, McCully said, adding that it would be something for Key "to spend more time on".

It's believed that Kerry will meet Key in Christchurch later today.

"But as you'll observe, the election outcome in the US raises some questions about the direction of trade matters and TPP and we do need to be respectful of the US process and allow them to deal with their domestic issues," McCully said.

- NZ Herald

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