New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has made his first telephone calls to foreign leaders as America's top diplomat.
The State Department says Kerry telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas Sunday. He told both that he is personally committed to pursuing peace in the Middle East. He also said the Israeli decision to free up tax revenues for the Palestinian Authority is a positive step.
Kerry also placed calls to Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan. All three agreed that North Korea needs to understand that it faces significant consequences if it continues provocative behavior in northeast Asia.
The State Department says Kerry telephoned the foreign ministers of Canada, Mexico and Turkey Saturday. He has also met or spoken with each living former U.S. secretary of state, seeking their advice.
Kerry was sworn in Friday, replacing Hillary Clinton, who was the top U.S. diplomat throughout President Barack Obama's first four years in office.