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Kerry Meets With Turkish Officials

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Turkey and Israel to restore diplomatic ties speedily, saying they each play an important role in resolving other issues in the Middle East.

Kerry is in Istanbul Sunday to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

At a shared news conference with the foreign minister, Kerry said it is important for Turkey and Israel to agree soon on compensation for the incident that caused a rift three years ago, when eight Turks and a Turkish American died in an Israeli raid on a relief flotilla bound for Gaza.

Concerning the ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria, Kerry said the U.S. and Turkey share the goal of a peaceful transition of power in Syria. He said Turkey has been "generous" in its support of Syrian refugees within Turkey's borders.

The United Nations estimates that more than 250,000 Syrians are living in camps in Turkey after fleeing Syria over the past two years.

Later in his 10-day trip, Kerry will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. The State Department says he will push for confidence-building measures between the two sides.

Kerry will also visit Britain for a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations.

He then flies to South Korea, China and Japan, where talks will focus on North Korea's nuclear program and escalating threats against the U.S. and its allies.

Kerry is scheduled to leave Tokyo to return to Washington on April 15.