United States Secretary of State John Kerry will visit the Middle East next week but will be skipping Israel, his spokesman said on Monday. In his daily briefing, State Department spokesman John Kirby announced that Kerry would be in Cairo on August 2 to discuss bilateral ties with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. From there, Kirby added, Kerry will travel to Qatar, where he will meet with the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the capital Doha for discussions of the Iran deal, among other issues.

Asked why Kerry would not be visiting Israel during the trip, the spokesman responded, “It’s just not part of the parameters for this trip. It’s not – it wasn’t a deliberate decision not to go. It’s literally – it’s an around-the-world trip.” Kirby added that Kerry “has been in touch with Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu many, many times over the last several weeks in terms of discussing the deal and the parameters of it. So it’s not as if we aren’t in constant communication with Israeli counterparts about this.” The last call Kerry and Netanyahu held was on July 16, Kirby said in response to a question from a reporter. MORE