February 3, 2013

Kerry calls foreign officials in first day on job

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON  — New Secretary of State John Kerry had a busy first weekend on the job, calling Palestinian, Israeli, Turkish, Canadian and Mexican officials.

In his conversation Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Kerry said President Barack Obama "is very interested in the peace process and aware of the economic hardships of the Palestinian people," Abbas spokesman Nabel Abu Rdeneh said.

Abu Rdeneh also said that Kerry said he would visit the region for further talks with Abbas "to preserve the political path." No time was set for the visit.

The State Department said Kerry spoke with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday about the formation of the country's new government, and that the two "exchanged views" on the peace process and regional matters.

Also on his first full day as America's top diplomat, Kerry:

*got an update from Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu about the investigation into Friday's suicide bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

*spoke with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird about Iran, Mali and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada to Texas.

*discussed with Mexico's foreign minister, Jose Antonio Meade, the deadly blast at the headquarters of Mexico's state-owned oil company.

*had lunch with George Shultz, secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan.

Kerry was sworn in Friday afternoon, succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton in Obama's Cabinet.

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