Kerry departs Saturday for Istanbul, the first leg of a six-nation trip that will see him travel on to Europe and East Asia. From there, he heads to Jerusalem for meetings with the presidents and prime ministers of both Israel and the Palestinians - after accompanying President Barack Obama there last month and making a solo trip to the Jewish state shortly after that.
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Kerry is expected to offer Ankara a role to play in the Mideast peace process thanks to its influence with Hamas, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Saturday.
A top Israeli state official said in response, "We are very keen on improving relations with the Turks but I am not aware of any plan that will see them act as mediators." It is estimated that Ankara is interested in becoming involved in the peace talks but will not be able to act as an honest broker due to its one-sided attitude towards the Palestinian issue.
Only a few days after Kerry’s visit to Turkey and Israel, delegations from the two countries will meet in Ankara to sort out the issue of compensation for the Mavi Marmara raid, Hurriyet further reported.
Turkish Vice Premier Bülent Arınç said last week that Ankara and Jerusalem had agreed to set up a joint committee of representatives from both sides that will discuss the extent of compensation.
The US secretary of state will arrive in Israel on Sunday evening and will hold his first meeting in Ramallah. On Monday morning, he will attend a ceremony marking the Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem museum. Kerry will then meet US President Shimon Peres and on Tuesday will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Though expectations are low for any breakthrough on Kerry's trip, his diplomacy represents some of the Obama administration's most sustained efforts for ending more than six decades of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Kerry is likely to seek confidence-building measures between the two sides, with negotiators and observers seeing little chance for immediate progress on the big obstacles toward a two-state peace agreement.
In Turkey, Kerry will also coordinate with Erdogan and other Turkish officials on efforts to halt the violence in neighboring Syria's civil war.
Kerry will also visit Britain and then South Korea, China and Japan, where talks will focus on North Korea's nuclear program and escalating threats against the US and its allies.
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