By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Secretary of State John Kerry, on his first international trip since becoming secretary in February, will meet with world leaders for discussions on a wide range of issues, from Europe and Afghanistan to Mali and Syria and to Middle East peace.
Kerry will also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov while in Berlin.
Kerry will visit nine nations in 11 days, according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Kerry will travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar from February 24 to March 6.
Kerry will meet first with senior British officials in London before traveling to Berlin, where he’ll discuss trans-Atlantic issues with German officials. While in Berlin Kerry will “exchange views with German young people on the state of European-American relations,” Nuland told journalists at the February 19 daily State Department briefing.
“His visit to Berlin will also be an opportunity for him to reconnect with a city in which he lived as a child,” Nuland said. Kerry lived in Berlin when his father served as an American diplomat stationed in the divided city.
Nuland announced February 21 that while in Berlin, Kerry will hold talks on the sidelines of his other meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
“Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov will discuss a wide range of bilateral and international issues,” Nuland said, without offering specific details. It will be their first face-to-face meeting since Kerry became secretary.
In Paris, Kerry will meet with senior French officials to discuss cooperation in the international effort in Mali. European nations and the United States have supported the French-led intervention in Mali to drive insurgents out of the country’s north. U.S. support to French forces has consisted of military airlift, refueling and other noncombat support.
In Rome, Kerry meets with senior Italian officials and is expected to participate in a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings with European allies to review the wider trans-Atlantic relationship and to discuss issues of global concern, Nuland said. Kerry will participate in multilateral meetings on Syria and with the leadership of the Syrian opposition coalition.
In Ankara, he will meet with Turkish officials to discuss strategic priorities — from ending the crisis in Syria to promoting regional stability, peace and security — as well as expansion of U.S.-Turkey cooperation, including counterterrorism cooperation, Nuland said.
“In Cairo, Secretary Kerry will meet with senior Egyptian officials, with other key political stakeholders, with civil society leaders and with the business community,” Nuland told journalists. “Among the themes will be encouraging greater political consensus and moving forward on economic reforms.”
Nuland said Kerry will also hold a one-on-one meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby to discuss “many shared challenges across the region.”
Kerry then travels to Riyadh to discuss U.S.-Saudi concerns and participate in a ministerial meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations. The council includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Kerry meets with senior officials to discuss continued close coordination. He concludes his trip in Doha, Qatar, Nuland said, where he will meet with Qatari leadership to discuss bilateral and regional issues of concern, such as Syria, Afghanistan and Middle East peace.