U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will become the first top U.S. government official to visit Antarctica next week, visiting the frozen continent even as American voters are electing a new president.
Kerry will depart Washington on November 7 and will arrive at McMurdo Station in Antarctica on November 10. From there he will travel to the U.S. research station at the South Pole, the department said on November 4.
While Kerry has privately complained that the acrimonious presidential campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump has made his job harder in recent months, department spokesman John Kirby denied that Kerry's travels were timed to keep him out of the country during the November 8 vote.
Kirby said the timing was largely dictated by weather conditions in Antarctica, which is moving into its short summer season. He said Kerry has already cast his ballot.
While on the continent, Kerry will meet with climate researchers and scientists and visit the recently established ocean reserve under the Ross Sea.
Kerry played a major role in creating that marine reserve -- the world's largest -- in treaty negotiations concluded on October 28 in Australia.