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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks on his phone while his plane refuels at Ramstein Air Base in Ramstein-Miesenbach August 1, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (GERMANY - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR40YDC(reuters_tickers)
HONOLULU (Reuters) - The globe-trotting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was forced to catch a commercial flight on Thursday after his U.S. Air Force plane encountered technical difficulties before takeoff from Hawaii at the end of a nine-day round-the-world trip.
Kerry was returning to Washington after visiting Afghanistan, Myanmar, Australia and the Solomon Islands when his plane broke down at Hawaii's Hickman Air Force Base.
He had stopped for a day in Hawaii where he delivered a speech on increased U.S. interests in Asia and the Pacific region.
"Finally some frequent flyer miles!" Kerry said on hearing the news that he would have to catch a commercial flight along with his staff and a travelling press corps.
Kerry has often expressed frustration with his ageing plane, which has previously run into technical problems during his global travels that has made him one of the most travelled U.S. secretaries of state.
While waiting for his flight, Kerry received a briefing from U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and spoke with several administration and foreign officials, according to a spokesman.
Since assuming office in Feb. 1, 2013, Kerry has juggled priorities amid a virtually non-stop travel schedule that has left many around him often exasperated and exhausted.
He has already overtaken his predecessor Hillary Clinton in his first year as America's top diplomat, clocking up 519,136 miles (835,468 km) to 51 countries in 239 days, according to State Department figures.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton)