U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit nine countries in Europe and the Middle East, including Turkey, starting Feb. 24 as he undertakes his first foreign trip as the country’s top diplomat, the State Department announced Feb. 19.
Kerry will visit Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar through March 6, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. Kerry’s first visit will be to London, from which he will move on to Germany and France.
Diplomatic sources had told Hürriyet Daily News that the date of Kerry’s visit Turkey was set as March 1.
However, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is likely to meet his American counterpart on Feb. 27 on the sidelines of the core group meeting of the “Friends of Syria,” which will take place in Italy.
Kerry will discuss “strategic priorities” in Ankara, such as the Syrian conflict and regional matters, according to a statement from the State Department. The visit will also aim “to deepen U.S.-Turkey bilateral cooperation, including counterterrorism cooperation,” the statement read.
Kerry’s next stop after Turkey will be Egypt, where mass protests were triggered last September over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. Kerry will also meet with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby in the Egyptian capital. He will end his first foreign trip in the Arabian Peninsula with visits to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
Kerry will not be visiting Israel or the Palestinian territories as previously suggested. Nuland said during a press briefing that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was still forming a government and said Kerry would join President Barack Obama on an upcoming visit to country. Obama is expected to arrive in Israel on March 20.