Kerry to avoid Ukraine on Europe, Mideast trip
US Secretary of State John Kerry is to depart Tuesday for Europe and the Middle East on a trip that will include the NATO foreign ministers' gathering in Brussels, dpa reported.
But he will not attend the 20th ministerial meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Kiev on Thursday and Friday, the State Department confirmed Monday.
Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said "scheduling issues" had prompted Kerry to substitute a stop in Moldava during his upcoming travel.
She declined to comment on questions about whether Kerry was boycotting the OSCE gathering because of the Ukraine government's decision to suspend negotiations with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.
Kerry will stop in Moldova after the NATO meetings because it has "taken a number of important reform steps in recent years." On Friday, European leaders sealed negotiations with Moldova on closer political and economic ties.
Kerry is to discuss Moldova's path toward European integration, US officials have said.
Psaki insisted the Moldova stop had been "in the works" before Ukraine took the turn away from the EU.
Jerusalem and Ramallah will be the final stops on Kerry's trip, which is to end on Friday. He is to meet with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.