John Kerry sworn in: Kerry first trip likely to include stops in Israel, Egypt, official says

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State John Kerry is likely to visit the Middle East as part of his first official overseas trip, wasting no time in demonstrating an urgency for reviving stalled peace talks and addressing political chaos in Egypt.

The full itinerary of Kerry's initial travel schedule was not clear, but a U.S official said the trip would likely include stops in Israel and Egypt.

The trip is expected in the middle of this month, the official said before Kerry was sworn-in on Friday by Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

Separately, a western diplomat said the former senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee has already been invited by some European capitals to visit later this month.

He traveled extensively during his nearly 30 years in the Senate, holding key positions and leading delegations and investigations around the world.

He most recently served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Kerry also traveled on behalf of the Obama administration to mend frayed relationships, most notably to Pakistan amid deteriorating relations from a series of incidents, including the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Pressing issues facing Kerry as he begins his tenure as the 68th secretary of state include the situation in Afghanistan, the civil war in Syria and Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Unrest in northern Africa, where militant groups affiliated with al Qaeda are on the rise, is also of deepening concern to U.S. national security officials.

But the Mideast is expected to occupy good part of Kerry's time. He has a feel for the Mideast and knows many of the key players.

Kerry insiders say he would want to play a big role shaping policy in the region and try to help solve some of the difficult issues, including delving heavily into the peace process.

Kerry said at his Senate confirmation hearing that he believes there is a "way forward" on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The window or door on a two-state solution could shut - and that would be disastrous for all concerned," he said. "Perhaps this can be a moment where we can renew some kind of effort to get the parties into a discussion to have a different track than we have been on over the last couple of years."

Kerry added that it was unclear what government would emerge from Israel's recent election.

Unrest in Egypt and the possible political fallout also is of growing concern for U.S. officials.

Egypt has been rocked by violence since last week's two-year anniversary of its 2011 revolution.

Protesters have fumed over the slow pace of change and recent edicts by Mohammed Morsy, the nation's first democratically elected president.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with CNN this week, echoed concerns about what a collapse of the Egyptian state could mean for the broader region.

"I think that would lead to incredible chaos and violence on a scale that would be devastating," she said. "There has to be some understanding by the new government that the aspirations that the people were expressing during the revolution in Egypt have to be taken seriously."

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