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Kerry puts off North Africa visit

US Secretary of State John Kerry gives a thumbs-up as he leaves his hotel in Geneva on November 8, 2013 on the second day of talks with Iran on the country's nuclear programme
US Secretary of State John Kerry gives a thumbs-up as he leaves his hotel in Geneva on November 8, 2013 on the second day of talks with Iran on the country's nuclear programme

US Secretary of State John Kerry Friday postponed a planned visit to Algeria and Morocco, as he shredded his original travel plans to fly to Geneva for Iranian nuclear talks.

He had been due to hold strategic talks with both countries next Monday and Tuesday, but his schedule was frantically reworked at the last minute so he could lend his weight to the high-profile talks on Iran's nuclear programme.

"Secretary Kerry will postpone his travel to Algiers, Algeria and Rabat, Morocco," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

"We value our strong relationships with Algeria and Morocco and Secretary Kerry looks forward to leading the US delegations to Strategic Dialogues in those countries in the future," she said.

Psaki said Kerry, who had already announced a visit to the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, would continue on "to other scheduled travel in the Middle East."

Earlier, Algeria had already announced that Kerry was no longer coming.

"Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra received a phone call from the American Secretary of State John Kerry, who told him that President Barack Obama had asked him to go to Geneva to take part in the current negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme," ministry spokesman Amar Belani said.

He said Kerry would head back to Washington after the talks "to report to President Obama and to update Congress on the developments relating to the Iranian nuclear file."

US officials indicated that "all the stages of the secretary of state's trip, which was expected in the coming days, have been cancelled," said Belani, citing by the national APS news agency.

Kerry broke off his Middle East tour early on Friday, which had already taken him to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, to join the negotiations in Geneva at the invitation of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Amid hopes of an imminent breakthrough in talks over Iran's nuclear programme, the British, French and German foreign ministers also arrived in Geneva after last-minute announcements they would join the talks between Tehran and their countries, along with the US, Russia and China.

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