Obama to Mexico, Kerry to Asia

Obama to Mexico, Kerry to Asia

President Barack Obama will travel to Mexico and Costa Rica in early May, the White House announced today, while Secretary of State John Kerry is set to go to East Asia in mid-April.

Obama spoke with Mexican President Pena Nieta over the phone Tuesday and will visit Mexico and Costa Rice May 2 to 4, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a Wednesday statement.

"This trip is an important opportunity to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America," said Carney.

In Mexico, Obama "welcomes the opportunity to discuss ways to deepen our economic and commercial partnership and further our engagement on the broad array of bilateral, regional, and global issues that connect our two countries," Carney said.

In Costa Rica, Obama will meet with President Laura Chinchilla and Chinchilla has invited a number of other Central Americans leaders to come to San Jose and meet with Obama at the same time.

Kerry will make his next overseas trip to East Asia, with stops in South Korea, Japan, and China from April 12 to 14, following a visit to London for the G8 foreign ministers meeting April 10 to 11.

"The secretary will continue to affirm the administration’s commitment to further broaden and enhance US economic, security and strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region," State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said earlier this month, adding that Kerry was "very much looking forward to getting back to Asia."

Kerry will visit Southeast Asian countries in June in a trip centered around the ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Brunei.

Wednesday, Kerry was in Paris and met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and discussed the crisis in Syria. The Paris stop was the last in Kerry’s overseas trip, which included unannounced visits to Iraq and Afghanistan, following his joining of Obama’s visit to Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan.

France and Britain have been pushing for an end to the EU arms embargo on Syria and are supporting the provision of non-lethal military articles to the armed opposition, including items such as body armor and night vision goggles. The Obama administration has not decided to provide those items to the Syria opposition, but is no longer opposed to other countries moving forward with such plans.

"I don’t think we’re characterizing it one way or the other other than to say that, you know, we’ve made our decision about our nonlethal assistance, and others are making their decisions," State Department Spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Wednesday.

Kerry’s Syria diplomacy also comes as the president of the Syrian opposition coalition, Moaz al Khatib, accused the United States of wanting the Syrian revolution to fail. Khatib said in a speech at the Arab League conference in Doha Tuesday that Kerry denied his request to use Patriot missile batteries in Turkey to defend Syrian airspace.

"There is an international conviction for the revolution not to succeed," he said.

Carney said Tuesday that the U.S. and NATO have no plans to turn their Patriot missile batteries on Syrian regime airplanes.

"Well, we are aware of the request and at this time, NATO does not intend to intervene militarily in Syria," he said. "I think that a Patriot missile battery I think would fall within the definition of military assistance.  The Patriot missile batteries that are deployed in Turkey are for defensive purposes only, to augment Turkey’s air defense capabilities to defend its territory and people."