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Budget problems threaten foreign policy, Kerry says

John Kerry gestures on Feb. 20, 2013, as he delivers his first foreign policy speech as Secretary of State at the University of Virginia.

AP

John Kerry gestures on Feb. 20, 2013, as he delivers his first foreign policy speech as Secretary of State at the University of Virginia.

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry says the greatest challenge to US foreign policy is not emerging China or Middle East instability. It’s Congress.

In a speech Wednesday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Kerry cited the adage that ‘‘we can’t be strong in the world unless we are strong at home.’’ He called the budget impasse a threat.

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The State Department has said automatic spending cuts would jeopardize $2.6 billion in aid, security assistance, and other international programs.

Kerry said legislators need to avoid ‘‘senseless cuts.’’

Otherwise, he said his credibility as a diplomat might be damaged.

Kerry said, ‘‘Think about it: It’s hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries that they must resolve their economic issues if we don’t resolve our own.’’

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