Kerry Trip Starts With Tough Syrian, Afghan Issues

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking during a ceremony at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, to announce the winners of the 2013 World Food Prize Laureate, will embark on an overseas trip to deal with thorny issues.
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Pakistan and India are nuclear-armed archrivals, but while they have fought three major wars since their partition in 1947, they have taken steps to improve relations in recent years.

Kerry also is to hold meetings with officials in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel.

In Saudi Arabia, senior State Department officials told reporters in a pre-trip briefing that Kerry would talk about how the U.S. can address concerns over extremists inside Syria, the intervention of foreign fighters from Iran and from Hezbollah. U.S. officials estimate that 5,000 Hezbollah members are fighting alongside Assad's regime, while thousands of Sunni foreign fighters are also believed to be in Syria — including members of Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaida affiliate that is believed to be among the most effective rebel factions.

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    Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.

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