Kerry’s departure for Mideast briefly delayed

Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s Mideast peacemaking efforts had a hard time getting off the ground Saturday.

Kerry’s Air Force plane suffered technical problems after he, his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and staff members had boarded for a scheduled 7 a.m. departure to Turkey.

The Air Force scrambled to transfer luggage, equipment and food from one 757 jet to another, while Kerry cooled his heels in Joint Base Andrews’ distinguished visitors lounge. More than three hours later, the party took off on the replacement plane.

In Turkey, Kerry will try to reinforce an agreement to repair the key Muslim nation’s ties to Israel. The deepening humanitarian crisis in Syria will also be a main agenda item.

Kerry then travels to Israel and the West Bank. He is trying to shepherd new peace talks on hold since 2010. The visit is a quick follow-up to President Obama’s first trip to Israel as president last month.

Kerry is also attending a meeting of Group of Eight foreign ministers in London before flying to Asia next week for crisis talks about North Korea.

Anne Gearan is a national politics correspondent for The Washington Post.

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