Kerry gets started at State, speaks to Middle East leaders
February 3rd, 2013
04:25 PM ET
1 year ago

Kerry gets started at State, speaks to Middle East leaders

(CNN) – Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, among others, during his first weekend on the job, according to a readout released by the State Department on Sunday.

The former senator from Massachusetts spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the country's recent elections and the Middle East peace process. He also talked to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about Israeli-Palestinian relations and vowed to continue efforts with Congress to send funds to the authority.

The conversations came one day after Kerry spoke with Israeli President Shimon Peres, whom he has known since he was a freshman senator, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a readout on Saturday.

Kerry also spoke to Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan Sunday, two days after being sworn-in as the 68th U.S. secretary of state on Friday.

On Saturday, he spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu about Friday's terrorist attack on the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara. Davutoglu updated Kerry on the investigation of the suicide bomber who killed himself and one other.

CNN reported that Istanbul police identified the bomber as Ecevit Sanli, a member of the Marxist Leninist organization known as the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party, or DHKP-C, which the U.S. government and others label a terrorist organization.

Nuland said Kerry and Davutoglu also spoke about the violent unrest in Syria and broader Middle East issues.

Furthermore, Kerry had a discussion Saturday with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Meade, who met with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier last week. Kerry, Nuland said, expressed condolences for those killed and injured in Thursday's explosion at the offices of the state oil company, Pemex, in Mexico City. President Enrique Peña Nieto posted on Twitter Sunday afternoon that a 35th body had been found.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird was also on the list of phone calls Saturday. Among other issues, they agreed to stay in touch on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would extend from Canada's tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico. Construction on the southern portion of the pipeline has already begun, while the northern leg in the United States awaits approval.

And after having lunch Saturday with former Secretary of State George Shultz, who served under President Ronald Reagan, Kerry has now met with or spoken by phone with each living secretary of state, Nuland said.

The conversations all took place after President Barack Obama announced Kerry as his nominee on December 21.

– CNN's Ashley Killough and Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Name lynn

    Kerry you want the job, an you got it do what is right for the people.

    February 3, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  2. just askin

    i wonder if he has spoken to every ambassador personally about whether they need more security?

    February 4, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  3. Tamar

    It is great that Kerry cares so much about peace. Good luck to him.

    February 4, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    Watch out India and its currency. Tighten loopholes.

    February 4, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |