US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Egypt and Qatar next week to alleviate concerns about the Iran nuclear deal with Arab leaders, but will not visit Israel during the trip.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry will visit Egypt on Aug. 2 and then travel to Qatar to meet with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council to discuss the nuclear deal, before heading to East Asia.
When asked by reporters why Kerry won’t be visiting Israel, Kirby said, “It is just not part of the trip.”
“It is an around-the-world trip,” said Kirby. “[Kerry] has been in touch with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu many times in the last several weeks to discuss the parameters of [the Iran deal]. We are in constant consultants with our Israeli counterparts about this.”
Last Friday, during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kerry defended his support for Israel by saying, “I’ve been around this thing for a long time—29 years in the Senate, and I’m very proud of the 100-percent voting record for Israel in the course of that time, and nobody I think has worked harder to try to bring peace to the Middle East or to Israel than I did over the last few years.”
“I think I’ve had more meetings with an Israeli prime minister and more visits than any secretary of state in history,” he added. “And I consider Bibi (Netanyahu) a friend, and we talk still, and we disagree on this, obviously, and I’ve told him my feelings.”