Kerry to return to region in peace push

Kerry to return to region in peace push

US secretary of state set to visit Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Qatar next week, may also meet Abbas and Netanyahu

John Kerry during a visit to Jerusalem in May 2012 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
John Kerry during a visit to Jerusalem in May 2012 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Just two weeks after playing point man on US President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry will reportedly return to the region next week for official visits to Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Qatar.

As part of a US push to restart the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the secretary of state is to meet with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday in Amman, Jordan, according to a PA official quoted by the AFP on Wednesday.

Kerry will also likely meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to an al-Quds report cited by Ynet News, although it was unclear whether that meeting would take place in Jordan or Israel. Abbas reportedly said he would be willing to meet with Netanyahu if Israel frees 120 Palestinian security prisoners who were jailed before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Kerry is to visit Turkey “this weekend,” according to a Tuesday Hürriyet Daily News report, while an anonymous State Department official told Reuters that the visit was likely to take place on “Friday or on Saturday.” Kerry is likely to discuss the ongoing Syrian civil war while in Ankara, among other topics.

On Monday, Kerry is reportedly to fly to Qatar for a meeting with Arab League representatives regarding the Arab Peace Initiative.

Kerry had planned to depart next week for meetings in London and then South Korea, China and Japan. But he has moved up his departure to Saturday to build on the rapprochement that President Barack Obama brokered between Turkey and Israel during his visit to the region, US officials said.

Since securing his position as secretary of state on February 1, Kerry has been extremely active in Middle Eastern affairs, and made surprise visits to Iraq and Afghanistan following his March trip to Israel.

In February, he held a high-level meeting in Ankara with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Abdullah Gül. Erdoğan is reportedly to meet with Obama in Washington in mid-May.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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