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U.S. chief diplomat Kerry to travel to Middle East

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures at the Center for American Progress 10th Anniversary policy forum in Washington, October 24, 201
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures at the Center for American Progress 10th Anniversary policy forum in Washington, October 24, 201

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East next week to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah as well as senior Israeli and Palestinian officials to discuss stability in the region, Iran and other issues.

In addition to Riyadh, Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Kerry will make stops in Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria and Morocco during the nine-day trip from November 3 to November 11, the State Department said on Thursday. Poland is also on the itinerary.

Kerry will "discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues" with Abdullah and "reaffirm the strategic nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship given the importance of the work between our two countries on shared challenges," department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The visit to Riyadh by the top U.S. diplomat follows a spate of unusually public complaints from leading members of the Saudi ruling family that reflect the kingdom's frustration with the United States over its perceived inaction on Syria, its diplomatic engagement with Iran and its coldness toward the military government in Egypt.

Kerry will discuss the ongoing final status negotiations and other regional issues with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the department said. Kerry and Israeli officials will also discuss Iran.

On Monday, Kerry said he may travel to Egypt in the coming weeks but Cairo was not on the itinerary for this trip.

The department said Kerry will meet with Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar. Various regional issues will be on the table at meetings with senior officials in Amman and Abu Dhabi, it added.

In Warsaw, Kerry will meet discuss defense issues with senior Polish officials, it said.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey)

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