Bandar Seri Begawan: US Secretary of State John Kerry's diplomatic portfolio switched from Mideast diplomacy to North Korea and the Syrian crisis when he landed in Brunei for a Southeast Asia security conference on Monday.

The tiny sultanate in the South China Sea, where he will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, is the last stop on Kerry's two-week tour of seven countries in Asia and the Middle East.

He landed in Brunei's capital on Monday after flying overnight from Tel Aviv, where he spent four days in long meetings trying to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN conference, Kerry is scheduled to have a lengthy chat with Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. "I am actually anxious to get there and to engage with him because the situation in Syria is grave," Kerry had said on Sunday in Tel Aviv.

Russia is a key backer of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is fighting rebel forces who have been being armed by the US and other nations.


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