Kerry adds Mideast leg to Asia trip
Secretary of State John Kerry’s pivot to Asia will be preceded by his third stop in the Middle East, with a newly announced visit to Turkey, Israel, and the West Bank. Kerry has already traveled to the region twice, once in February by himself, and once in March with President Barack Obama that included stops ...
Secretary of State John Kerry’s pivot to Asia will be preceded by his third stop in the Middle East, with a newly announced visit to Turkey, Israel, and the West Bank.
Kerry has already traveled to the region twice, once in February by himself, and once in March with President Barack Obama that included stops in Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan. Kerry was already planning to go next week to Japan, South Korea, and China, following a stop in London for the G-8 foreign ministers’ meeting. Now he is adding a new set of stops, the State Department announced Wednesday.
"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," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Kerry will go to Jerusalem on April 8 and Ramallah April 9, she said. In Jerusalem he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and in Ramallah he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Nuland did not say whom Kerry will meet in Turkey. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Turkey the week after Kerry.
Following his Mideast detour, Kerry will continue on with his previously planned schedule, stopping in Seoul April 12, Bejing April 13, and Tokyo April 14.
Why Turkey? Following the Israel-Turkey phone call that took place during Obama’s visit last month, during which Netanyahu apologized for the deaths that resulted from the Israeli boarding of a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in 2010, the administration wants to make sure the fragile Israel-Turkey warming of relations continues apace.
"So by going to Istanbul first to see Turkish officials and then going on to Israel, the secretary will also have an opportunity to spur both sides to continue to take steps to deepen their normalization and to work well together," Nuland said. "We need to now see further steps on both sides."
Nuland tamped down expectations that there would be any publicly visible progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process coming out of Kerry’s trip.
"I would not expect the secretary to be putting down a plan," she said. "As you know, the secretary had a chance to have a meeting directly after the [last] visit with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and with President Abbas. It’s now been a couple of weeks. They’ve had some time to reflect on the visit, et cetera. So this is a chance for the secretary to go back and to listen again and to hear what they think is possible."
"I think you’ve figured out by now that Secretary Kerry very much believes in personal diplomacy. He believes in sitting with leaders and listening to them. So that’s what he will be doing again this time," she said.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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