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February 20, 2013 1:11 am

Kerry Will Bypass Israel in Trip Middle East, Europe

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Secretary of State John Kerry.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will bypass Israel on his first official trip to the Middle East, U.S. officials said Tuesday as they announced a jam-packed itinerary through nine nations, including several in Europe.

Kerry’s maiden voyage begins Sunday. He will visit close U.S. allies and partners in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Kerry’s trip will focus on the conflicts in Mali, Syria and Afghanistan, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Nuland said the U.S. was waiting for Israeli political parties to form a new government after the recent Knesset election.

“The Israelis are still working on their coalition,” she told reporters, adding that Kerry won’t travel to Israel or the Palestinian territories until next month—when he will accompany President Barack Obama to the region.

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