U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Israel and Egypt as part of an eight-nation tour which began Thursday, the State Department announced.
“Clinton will travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel departing Washington, DC on July 5,” AFP quoted a statement from State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland as having said.
The AFP report noted that on her way back from Asia, Clinton will make a two-day stop in Egypt, her first since President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood became the country's first Islamist leader.
Her last visit to Egypt was in March 2011, when she toured Cairo's Tahrir Square in the wake of the protests that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
She will wrap up her tour with a two-day stop on July 16-17 in Israel where, according to Nuland’s statement “she will be meeting with the Israeli leadership to discuss peace efforts and a range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual concern.”
It will be Clinton's first visit to Israel since September 2010, AFP noted. Earlier this week it was reported that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will visit Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other leaders.
Romney has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel.
Clinton began her tour in France on Thursday, where she will attend talks on how to end the 16-month conflict in Syria.
While in Paris, Clinton will also meet Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud. PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said this week that Abbas will stress the importance of releasing PA prisoners jailed in Israel when he meets with Clinton and French president Francois Hollande.