After announcing that Secretary of State John Kerry will be traveling to Antarctica, State Department spokesman John Kirby was grilled over why Kerry was traveling there and the trip's cost to taxpayers.
Kerry will travel to a research station at the South Pole in a trip that begins Monday.
Kirby said the foreign minister of New Zealand would not be accompanying Kerry when asked by reporters. Flights to the South Pole normally stop in New Zealand first. Reporters then asked what the diplomatic purpose of the visit is. Kirby said the reason is climate change.
"The purpose for the South Pole was to talk to researchers and scientists largely about climate change research," Kirby said.
Kirby was unable to provide an estimated cost for Kerry's trip.
"There's some criticism that this trip is basically, you know, the secretary wants to knock Antarctica off his bucket list and he's doing it on taxpayer expense," a reporter said.
Kirby asked where the criticism was coming from given that the department was just making the announcement of Kerry's trip then, before going back to discussing climate change.
"Given all the stakes for the planet, particularly for sea level rise by melting ice, the secretary believes this is an important trip to make, and it's a place he's been wanting to go for a while now," Kirby said.