Illness forces Clinton to briefly delay trip to meeting on Syria
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been taken ill with a stomach virus and will delay by one day her trip to Morocco for a meeting on the future of Syria’s opposition, the State Department said on Sunday.
Clinton, who had been due to depart for the meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh on Monday, will now leave on Tuesday, spokesman Philippe Reines said in an emailed statement.
“Because she has a stomach virus, our departure for Morocco has been moved from Monday to Tuesday. She will not have any schedule tomorrow in Washington,” Reines said.
Clinton is due to join foreign ministers from allied nations in Morocco to discuss the 20-month old Syria crisis as rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad push forward on the battlefield and take steps to unify the political opposition.
The Morocco meeting of the “Friends of Syria” group is expected to focus on new moves to strengthen and legitimize the recently formed Syrian opposition coalition.
Clinton may announce formal U.S. recognition of the group as “the legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. Such an endorsement could pave the way for it to become a government-in-waiting and to receive fresh U.S. humanitarian help for a mounting refugee crisis spilling across Syria’s borders.
Clinton is scheduled to continue from Morocco to Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
She has kept up a punishing pace in her final weeks as secretary of state, a position she says she intends to leave once President Barack Obama begins his second term in late January.