Secretary of State John Kerry embarked Sunday on his first official overseas voyage in a diplomatic mission to bring new ideas to capitals in Europe and the Middle East on how to end nearly two years of brutal violence in Syria.
Kerry left Washington to start a grueling nine-nation, 10-day trip that will take him to America's traditional western 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 Iran's nuclear program.
Kerry has said he is eager to discuss new ways of convincing Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and usher in a democratic transition in the country that has been wracked by increasing violence that has killed at least 70,000 people. He has not offered details of his ideas but officials say they revolve around increasing pressure on Assad and his inner circle.