WASHINGTON, April 6 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Saturday began a nine-day trip to the Middle East, Europe and Asia, beginning in Turkey, the State Department said.
At his first stop, in Istanbul, he will meet with Turkish officials about efforts to end the civil war in Syria, Voice of America reported. Kerry is also expected to meet with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan was reported to have given Kerry the cold shoulder in March, keeping the secretary waiting after he had an extended meeting with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Today's Zaman reported.
Another meeting with Davutoglu is scheduled during the current visit. The two are expected to discuss a number of regional issues -- including political turmoil in Iraq, the situation in Cyprus, the Syrian crisis and reconciliation between Israel and Turkey.
Kerry's itinerary includes stops in England, South Korea, China and Japan.
His talks in Asia are expected to concentrate on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and threats against South Korea.
Kerry will head home April 15 after visiting with officials in Tokyo.