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Kerry to Visit Turkey, Israel

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second from right, walks across the tarmac of Baghdad International Airport as he prepares to board an aircraft out of the Iraqi capital, Mar. 24, 2013.
Secretary of State John Kerry is to visit Turkey and Israel next week, just days after President Barack Obama's efforts to improve relations between the two nations.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Kerry will visit Istanbul on Sunday, followed by stops in Jerusalem and the Palestinian-governed West Bank. He will then continue on his previously scheduled trips to London and Asia.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says he and Kerry will discuss regional concerns, including Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Relations between Turkey and Israel were severely strained in 2010 after Israel raided a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza. Eight Turks and one Turkish-American died in the raid.

Less than two weeks ago, President Obama helped arrange a call from Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which Netanyahu apologized for the deadly flotilla raid.

Turkey had demanded an apology as a precondition for restoring ties with Israel.