WASHINGTON — John Kerry embarked Sunday on his first official overseas trip as secretary of state, hoping to bring new ideas to Europe and the Mideast about how to end nearly two years of violence in Syria.
Kerry's nine-nation, 10-day trip will take him to America's traditional European allies of Britain, Germany, France and Italy, along with Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. In addition to Syria, he will focus on conflicts in Mali and Afghanistan, and on Iran's nuclear program.
Kerry has said he is eager to discuss new ways of persuading Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and usher in a democratic transition in the country wracked by escalating violence that has killed at least 70,000 people.
Kerry, a former Democratic senator from Massachusetts who succeeded Hillary Rodham Clinton in President Barack Obama's second-term Cabinet, has not offered details of his ideas but officials say they revolve around increasing pressure on Assad and his inner circle.