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New US secretary of state places first phone calls

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

John Kerry spoke with the president of Israel and his Turkish, Canadian and Mexican counterparts in his first phone calls as the new US secretary of state, officials said Sunday.

Kerry, the former head of the Senate foreign relations committee, replaced Hillary Clinton on Friday.

Kerry spoke with the foreign officials by phone Saturday, including Israeli President Shimon Peres, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

Peres congratulated Kerry on his appointment, briefed him on the formation of a new government in Israel, and the two exchanged views on regional issues, Nuland said.

In the call to his Turkish counterpart, Kerry thanked Ahmet Davutoglu "for the excellent bilateral cooperation following Friday's terrorist attack on the US embassy in Ankara."

Both leaders "underscored the vital importance of the strongest possible counter-terrorism cooperation" and exchanged views on Syria and Middle East issues, Nuland said.

Kerry and Canada's foreign minister agreed that their two countries would "work closely together" on issues that include support for Arab Spring countries, maintaining international unity on Iran, and the situations in Syria and in Mali.

The two also "agreed to stay in touch" on developments regarding the controversial the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the proposed $7 billion Canada-to-Texas pipeline which many activists fear could be damaging to the environment.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130203/new-us-secretary-state-places-first-phone-calls