UVa Ready to Welcome Sec. of State John Kerry to Grounds Wednesday

By: Jessica Cunnington Email
By: Jessica Cunnington Email

February 19, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, will give his first major speech at UVa on Wednesday since joining President Obama's cabinet.

He'll speak on grounds at the university founded by America's first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson.

More than 200 students and staff picked up their tickets on Tuesday afternoon and hoping to get a good seat before it starts.

Students say they saw lots of political action in Charlottesville before the presidential election in November but this will be exciting and different.

"This is my first chance to see an actively serving Secretary of State," said Mandeep Kalra, a graduate student studying history of American foreign relations. "He's brand new to office so I'd like to see the policies that he and the Obama administration intend to pursue aligning with American values."

One UVa alum and local activist, David Swanson says he's also curious to see what Kerry brings to the international table. Swanson puts emphasis on respect for the law and equality around the world.

"In nations like Libya, Syria and Iran we have grave concern for human rights. Why the disparity, why don't we care about human being's everywhere?" Swanson said.

Kerry's policy speech at UVa comes just days before his first official trip overseas as Secretary of State to Europe and the Middle East. And with the conflict in Syria, both Kalra and Swanson are curious.

I would love to see the State Department counter what we used to call the 'war department', the Department of Defense," Swanson said.

"I'd like to know whether and under what conditions he and the Obama administration would consider providing arms for the rebels," said Kalra. "And how does it affect the region and American foreign policy interests and strategic interests in general."

The speech will begin at 11 a.m. in Old Cabell Hall. CBS19 will stream it live here on our webchannel.

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