Washington: The new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been tasked to find a permanent solution of violence in Syria as he has kicked off his first official overseas visit on Sunday for bringing new ideas with Europe and Arab states to put an end on two-year long Syrian civil war.
Kerry will visit nine countries in a 10-day trip that will take him to America’s traditional European allies of Britain, Germany, France and Italy, along with Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In addition to Syria, he will focus on conflicts in Mali and Afghanistan, and on Iran’s nuclear program.
Kerry said that he is eager to discuss new ways of persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and usher in a democratic transition in the country that wracked by escalating violence that has killed at least 70,000 people so far.
Kerry, a former Democratic senator from Massachusetts who succeeded Hillary Rodham Clinton in President Barack Obama’s second-term Cabinet, has not offered details of his ideas but officials said that they revolve around increasing pressure on Assad and his inner circle.
He will first stop in London where he will hold talks with British officials on a range of issues, from Afghanistan to the status of the Falkland Islands. Britain is in a major dispute with Argentina over the Falklands.
In Germany, Kerry will discuss trans-Atlantic issues with German youth in Berlin, where he spent time as a child as the son of an American diplomat posted to the divided Cold War city. He will also meet with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the German capital.
In Paris, he will discuss France’s intervention in Mali, while in Rome he will attend a meeting with Syrian opposition leaders.
US officials have said that the trip will be primarily a “listening tour” when it comes to Syria and won’t result in immediate shifts in US policy that has until now stayed clear of military support for the rebels fighting Assad.
Despite the numerous Middle East stops, Kerry will not travel to Israel or the Palestinian territories. He will wait to visit them when he accompanies President Barack Obama there in March.