Kerry to bypass Israel in first Middle East trip
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Kerry to bypass Israel in first Middle East trip

Newly instated US secretary of state to visit key American regional allies, but will wait to accompany Obama to Jerusalem

John Kerry addresses constituents in Boston, Massachusetts, on Thursday, January 31. (photo credit: AP/Winslow Townson)
John Kerry addresses constituents in Boston, Massachusetts, on Thursday, January 31. (photo credit: AP/Winslow Townson)

Secretary of State John Kerry will make his first official trip overseas next week, a jam-packed travel agenda that includes meetings in nine nations across Europe and the Middle East.

But there will be no stops in Israel or the Palestinian territories.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Kerry is bypassing Jerusalem and Ramallah while Israeli political parties continue to form a government after recent elections.

Kerry departs February 24. He will visit close US allies and partners: Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. His diplomacy will focus on the conflicts in Mali, Syria and Afghanistan.

The 2004 presidential candidate, sworn in to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this month, is scheduled to return to Washington on March 6. 

US President Barack Obama is set to pay his first official visit in office in late March. Kerry will likely join Obama during the March 20 trip, Israel Radio reported, in a possible attempt to kick-start peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

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