MILAN (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week in Europe to discuss easing Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
The State Department said Kerry and Netanyahu discussed plans to meet during a phone call Friday as Kerry flew from Washington to Milan on an unrelated trip.
The department described the call as "productive" and said it focused on ways to end ongoing violence. An official said Kerry reiterated U.S. condemnation of terrorist attacks against Israelis and reaffirmed Israel's right to defend its citizens.
Kerry "made clear that he will continue to follow the situation closely and that the U.S. will remain engaged in efforts to restore calm," the department said.
A senior official traveling with Kerry said the meeting between the secretary and Netanyahu could be held in Berlin as early as Wednesday, but the date and venue were not yet confirmed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the call publicly.
The department also said Kerry spoke Thursday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and "expressed his deep concern over the recent wave of violence and offered his support for efforts to restore calm as soon as possible."
Kerry also emphasized to Abbas the need to avoid further violence and prevent inflammatory rhetoric, accusations and actions that increase tensions.
Kerry told Abbas that he hopes to travel to the region "at the appropriate time," the department said.