Secretary of State John Kerry is off and racking up the frequent flier miles, embarking on his first official overseas voyage in a diplomatic mission to bring new ideas to European capitals and the Middle East on how to end nearly two years of brutal violence in Syria. Kerry today began a grueling nine-nation, 10-day trip that will take him to traditional western European allies of Britain, Germany, France, and Italy, along with Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. In addition to Syria, he will focus on conflicts in Mali and Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear program.
A look at what he's up to:
- Kerry begins his trip in London where he will see senior British officials on issues ranging from Afghanistan to the status of the Falkland Islands, over which Britain is in a major dispute with Argentina.
- In Germany, Kerry will discuss trans-Atlantic issues with German youth in Berlin, where he spent time as a child as the son of an American diplomat. He will also meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
- In Paris, Kerry will discuss France's ongoing intervention in Mali.
- In Rome, he'll attend a meeting with Syrian opposition leaders.
- Notably absent from the itenerary: Israel. Kerry will wait to visit when he accompanies President Obama there in March.