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John Kerry has a busy first weekend

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 00:51

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.

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 yesterday, 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 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 yesterday, Kerry spoke of his personal commitment and hope 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 yesterday, 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.


First Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 00:51
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