Busy start to Kerry's term as top diplomat

John Kerry was in Boston last week as his Senate career was ending. He was sworn in as secretary of state Friday and got right to work.
John Kerry was in Boston last week as his Senate career was ending. He was sworn in as secretary of state Friday and got right to work. (WINSLOW TOWNSON / Associated Press)
Posted: February 04, 2013

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to Israeli and Palestinian leaders in phone calls over the weekend, assuring them the Obama administration will continue to pursue a Mideast peace agreement while recognizing the individual concerns on both sides.

Kerry told Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his and President Obama's commitment to support Israel's security and to pursue a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu updated Kerry on his work to form a new government. They also discussed Iran and Syria, and pledged to work together closely.

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

The department also said Kerry spoke with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday about the formation of the country's new government.

On a busy first weekend as America's top diplomat, Kerry also:

Talked with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and agreed to work closely together to prepare for the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Washington this month.

Talked with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and agreed on the need to ensure that North Korea understands that it will face significant consequences from the international community if it continues its provocative behavior.

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

Spoke with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and Mexico's foreign minister, Jose Antonio Meade.

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

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