U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry departed Saturday on a wide-ranging tour to be dominated by the crisis in Syria, the Middle East peace process and North Korea.
Kerry's first stop is Turkey where he will meet Sunday with Turkish officials including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They will discuss efforts to end the bloody civil war in Syria.
The top U.S. diplomat will later meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. The State Department said he will push for confidence-building measures between the two sides.
Plans call for Kerry to fly to London for a meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations, before flying east for his first trip to Asia since becoming secretary of state earlier this year. His stops in South Korea, China and Japan are likely to focus on North Korea's nuclear program and rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has made a series of threats against the U.S. and South Korea in recent weeks.
Kerry is scheduled to leave Tokyo to return to Washington on April 15.