WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend a conference on peace in the Middle East to be held this Sunday in Paris, during his last overseas trip as secretary of state, which will include visits to Vietnam, the United Kingdom and Switzerland before returning to the United States, the U.S. Department of State said in a press statement.
Kerry’s presence at that international event evidences his break with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fears that the conference will deepen his diplomatic isolation.
The gap with Netanyahu was clear last month when the U.S. abstained for the first time in decades in a UN Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory and was reinforced by the speech that Kerry gave days later to justify that vote in the United Nations.
The current Secretary of State mediated for nine months between 2013-2014 in direct peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but that effort failed.
However, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has promised a rapprochement with Netanyahu from his rise to power on Jan. 20 and is expected to resume hard-line unconditional support for the Israeli Government’s policies.
Kerry’s last foreign trip as secretary of state will begin this Friday, Jan 13 in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he will meet with Vietnamese senior officials to “discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues,” the Department of State said in a statement.
That same day, the secretary of state will travel to Ho Chi Minh to meet with Vietnamese senior officials and will deliver a speech on relations between the United States and Vietnam, according to the press statement.
On Saturday, Kerry will visit the Vietnamese province of Ca Mau, in the Mekong Delta region, to talk to “local experts on environmental issues affecting the region and ways (the U.S.) can partner with Vietnam to develop clean energy and sustainable infrastructure, smart water governance, and ecosystem resource management,” the statement said.
After his trip to Paris, Kerry will travel to London, United Kingdom, on Jan. 16 to meet with his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, and address “the situation in Syria and other global and regional issues.”
Finally, on Jan 17-18, Kerry will attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he will be “the featured speaker in a discussion on 21st century diplomacy,” the State Department said.