Kerry to visit Middle East again

Washington, April 4 (IANS) US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Istanbul, Jerusalem and Ramallah, on his third trip to the Middle East since he took office in February, an official said.

“The secretary will depart this weekend. His first stop will now be in Istanbul where he will consult with senior Turkish leaders on a variety of subjects including the situation in Syria,” Xinhua quoted State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as saying at a briefing.

She said Kerry will be in Jerusalem April 8 and in Ramallah April 9.

“In Jerusalem, he will meet with Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu. In Ramallah, he will meet with President (Mahmoud) Abbas,” Nuland said.

Following the Middle East trip, Kerry will be in London April 10-11 for the G8 foreign ministers meeting, as previously announced, said Nuland.

After London, he will start his Asian trip which includes visits to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo.

The newly-added trip to the Middle East will be Kerry’s third visit to the region since he took office in February. He had previously visited Egypt in March in his first overseas trip as secretary of state. Kerry also accompanied President Barack Obama on his trip to Israel about two weeks ago.

The peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2010 due to Israel’s ongoing settlement construction in the West Bank.

The US is pressuring Israel to provide further gestures towards the Palestinian Authority in order to set a stage for restarting the peace negotiations.

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