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Kerry to make new Middle East visit

Published: Updated:

Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Istanbul this weekend before traveling on to Israel and Ramallah, a top U.S. official said Wednesday, on what will be Kerry’s third trip to the Middle East.

Kerry will meet with top Turkish leaders to discuss the situation in Syria, before heading to Jerusalem and the West Bank on Monday and Tuesday.

He will hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, adding Kerry wanted “to see what is possible” on the peace talks.

The visit to the Middle East has been added to a previously announced trip during which Kerry will also travel to London before heading to Asia for the first time as America’s new secretary of state.

But Nuland dismissed the notion that Kerry might be ready to unveil a new initiative to try to bring together the Israelis and the Palestinians, with the peace process having stalled since late 2010.

“The secretary is not planning to put a big plan on the table,” Nuland said, stressing this was to be a “listening tour.”

“He will also be making clear that the parties have to want to get back to the table,” she said, warning that “compromises and sacrifices” will have to be made on both sides.

On his first overseas trip since taking up the post, Kerry visited Egypt in early March for talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi.

He then accompanied President Barack Obama on a trip last month, before holding one-on-one talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in Jerusalem and Amman on March 24.