Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday will visit the Middle East - Turkey and Israel - his third trip to the region in less than a month, which is being seen as a personal effort on his part to ease tension in the region and work towards durable peace.
Kerry`s latest trip comes after Israel apologised to Turkey for the deaths of nine Turkish activists aboard an aid ship bound for Gaza, in a raid by Israeli commandoes in 2010, ending an almost three-year spat in a deal worked out by US President Barack Obama.
"The Secretary will depart this weekend. His first stop will now be in Istanbul where he will consult with senior Turkish leaders on a variety of subjects including the situation in Syria. He will then go on April 8th and 9th to Jerusalem and Ramallah," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.
"In Jerusalem he will meet with (the Israeli) Prime Minister (Benjamin) Netanyahu. In Ramallah he will meet with (the Palestine) President (Mahmud) Abbas," she said.
From the Middle East, Kerry would resume his pre-announced trip to Europe and Asia, she said.
On Kerry`s trip to the Middle East, Nuland cautioned not to expect that he would be putting down a plan.
"As the President said during his visit to the region, following his visit, he asked Secretary Kerry to continue exploring with the parties, with the Israelis and the Palestinians, how we can support the parties in getting back to the table and in having a real dialogue leading to peace," she said.
In the last trip to the region, she said, Kerry had a chance to have a meeting directly after the visit with both Netanyahu and Abbas.
"It`s now been a couple of weeks. They`ve had some time to reflect on the visit et cetera. So this is a chance for the secretary to go back and listen again and to hear what they think is possible," Nuland said.