Ambassador Terry Branstad is back home in Iowa for the first time since assuming his post in China. The former Iowa governor attended his brother’s funeral in Leland on Monday and plans to spend the holidays here.
On Wednesday, Branstad worked from a desk in the governor’s office, catching up on ambassador business. An aide stopped him from discussing embassy affairs, but Branstad did reveal that in recent weeks he has travelled to the Chinese border with North Korea.
“I’ve been to Tuman which is on the river that separates Jilin province of China with Korea,” Branstad said. “I was there three days after they had the nuclear test and I met with the party secretary who’s the top person up there and, you know, they felt it.”
Branstad indicated North Korea is one of the top issues he’s addressing as ambassador.
“I think we’re getting gotten more cooperation from China than we’ve ever gotten, but there’s still more that needs to be done to try to convince North Korea that this course they’re on, I mean, this is the most dangerous thing to humankind right now this nuclear and ballistic missile program they are embarked on,” Branstad said.
Branstad’s wife, Chris, his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters who’ve been living in China since this summer accompanied him back to Iowa.
Branstad’s oldest son, Eric, has been working in Washington, D.C. in the U.S. Commerce Department since January, while his wife and kids remained in Des Moines. Branstad’s other son, Marcus, has remained with his family in central Iowa. The Branstads plan to attend Christmas Mass in Des Moines and celebrate Christmas together.
Ambassador Branstad plans to head back to China January 3.
(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell)