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US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Turkey can play a major role in the Middle East peace process, calling it a "vibrant and energised" country.
"Turkey can be a key, an important contribution to the process of peace in so many ways," Kerry told reporters. "A country as vibrant and energised as Turkey can have a profound impact on the peace process."
After talks in Turkey, Kerry heads later Sunday to Israel and Ramallah in the West Bank, where he will meet with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
He will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, in what will be his third trip to the Middle East region since the start of his tenure on February 1.
US officials have said the return visit will give him a chance to probe possibilities for restarting the moribund peace process in the wake of Obama's trip last month.
Observers say the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement could enable Ankara to play a role in the Middle East peace process and in particular encourage reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and al-Fatah.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he spoke by telephone late Saturday with Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, the re-elected head of the Islamist Hamas movement.