Turmoil in world's hot spots dominate Kerry trip

AP News
Posted: May 12, 2014 5:51 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Turmoil in three of the world's trouble spots will dominate Secretary of State John Kerry's trip this week to London.

Kerry, who is scheduled to leave on Wednesday, will meet with 10 other foreign ministers to discuss ways to end the crisis in Syria.

The gathering comes on the heels of key Syrian opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba's visit last week to Washington. The U.S. is providing nonlethal assistance to the opposition, but the rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's forces have renewed their calls for heavy weaponry, such as anti-armor rockets, to combat the deluge of the Syrian government's barrel bombings and other attacks against rebel-held areas.

The ministers also will discuss political strife in Ukraine. Ukraine's central government and the West say Russia has encouraged weeks of unrest in eastern Ukraine in a possible attempt to grab more land. Russia says that's not so, and accuses the West of meddling in a region that Moscow sees as its backyard.

Pro-Moscow insurgents in eastern Ukraine declared independence Monday and sought to join Russia, undermining upcoming Ukrainian presidential elections, strengthening the Kremlin's hand and putting pressure on Kiev to hold talks with the separatists following a referendum on self-rule.

While in London, Kerry also will meet separately with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss U.S.-Palestinian relations and peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians that broke down last month.