Washington: The new US Secretary of State John Kerry had a very busy first weekend, dialing leaders of Israel and Palestine and his counterparts in Japan, S Korea, Mexico, Turkey and Canada. (Agencies)
Kerry, who was sworn in as the Secretary of State on Friday afternoon, not only spoke with the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, and its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but also the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, reflecting that finding an amicable two state solution to this decades old conflict is going to be his top priority.
During telephone calls with Netanyahu on Saturday, Kerry "underscored his personal commitment" and that of the US President Barack Obama to support Israel's security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
He commended the country's decision to release tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority as an important step. Iran and Syria also came up during their discussion, the State Department said.
In his telephone call with Abbas on Saturday, Kerry spoke of his personal commitment and hopes for continued efforts to pursue peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "He also pledged to continue efforts with the Congress to release budget support funds for the Palestinian Authority and noted the positive step the Israelis had taken by releasing the tax revenues," the State Department said.
On Saturday, Kerry after his assuming his new post made his first phone call to Peres, whom he's known since he was a freshman Senator.
"Peres congratulated the Secretary on his appointment and briefed him on the ongoing discussions in Israel on the formation of a new government. They also exchanged views on the Middle East peace process and regional issues," the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
On Saturday, he also made phone calls to his three foreign counterparts in Turkey, Canada and Mexico. And on Saturday, he spoke with the Foreign Ministers of Japan and S Korea.
Kerry and the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in their phone call agreed to work closely together to prepare the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Washington later this month.
Both the leaders discussed a number of key issues on the agenda including the TransPacific Partnership, the Futenma replacement facility, the Senkakous and North Korea.
They agreed - as did Kerry and the Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in their call - on the need to ensure that the South Korea understands that it will face significant consequences from the international community if it continues its provocative behavior.
Kerry also thanked Kishida for the role Japan plays in Afghanistan, Burma and in support of the Syrian opposition. In addition to discussing North Korea, Kerry and Kim reviewed other issues in their bilateral relationship and underscored the importance of continued close collaboration when the Park administration takes office, the State Department said.
In his call with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, on Saturday Kerry discussed with him the latest terrorist attack at the US Embassy in Ankara and the ongoing investigations.
"Secretary thanked him for the excellent bilateral cooperation following Friday's terrorist attack on the US embassy in Ankara," Nuland said.
"Davutoglu updated the Secretary on the ongoing investigation into the attack, and both leaders underscored the vital importance of the strongest possible counter-terrorism cooperation. They also exchanged views on the situation in Syria and on broader Middle East issues," she said, adding that Kerry commended recent progress on the Halki Seminary and urged further efforts to resolve outstanding issues.
In his phone call with his Canadian counterpart, John Baird, the two leaders agreed to work closely together on a broad range of issues, including support for Arab Spring countries, maintaining international unity on Iran, the situations in Syria and in Mali and the need to redouble global counter-terrorism efforts.
"They also agreed to stay in touch on the Keystone pipeline," she said.
In his call with Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, Kerry expressed condolences for the Pemex incident and offered any desired assistance. "They discussed our thriving bilateral relationship, the Merida Initiative and their shared commitment to continue to broaden the bilateral economic and trade relationship and North American integration," Nuland said.
Earlier on Saturday, Kerry had lunch with former Secretary of State George Shultz to draw on his experience under the former US President Ronald Reagan and to seek his advice on a broad range of global issues as he begins his tenure, the spokesperson said. Teresa Heinz Kerry also had lunch with Mrs. Shultz, a long time friend she added.
"Secretary Kerry has now met with or spoken by phone with each living Secretary of State, Democrat and Republican, since being announced as President Obama's nominee," Nuland said.
Washington: The new US Secretary of State John Kerry had a very busy first weekend, dialing leaders of Israel and Palestine and his counterparts in Japan, S Korea, Mexico, Turkey and Canada.