2. SOUNDBITE (English) John Kerry, US Secretary of State
"First of all we talked about the importance of completing the task with respect to the renewal of relationships between Turkey and Israel. That was an important and courageous choice and decision made by the prime minister of Israel to move forward in that relationship, and I believe both Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and Foreign Minister (Ahmet) Davutoglu are deeply committed to fulfilling all of the obligations of that understanding."
3. Wide of Kerry
4. SOUNDBITE (English) John Kerry, US Secretary of State
"As a NATO country, Turkey is an important contributor to peace in the region. And one of the reasons that we have a Patriot battery on the border here in Turkey is because of that relationship. So clearly if allies who have differences have suddenly put those differences aside, you have a much stronger alliance. You have a much stronger ability to be able to address other concerns you may have, and ultimately to stand up to the threats that are mutual. And one of those mutual threats is Iran. So without any question this rapprochement (between Turkey and Israel) puts us in a position to be able to not allow us to be divided on something of as enormous consequences as the potential of a nuclear programme in Iran, which still has not been adequately answered."
6. SOUNDBITE (English) John Kerry, US Secretary of State
"We have expressed to the prime minister that we really think that it (Erdogan's planned trip to Gaza) would be better delayed and it shouldn't take place at this point in time."
8. SOUNDBITE (English) John Kerry, US Secretary of State
(referring to Syria)
"The United States - in fulfilment of our obligations with respect to supporting the opposition - has committed to doubling our non-lethal aid and to giving much of that to local leaders, who are trying to lay the groundwork for a stable and a democratic future. And each of the countries represented that were here yesterday all made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance, directly and uniquely, solely through the Supreme Military Command, General (Salim) Idriss."
9. Mid of Kerry entering St. George Church
10. Wide of Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Kerry entering and sitting down
11. Close up of Kerry lighting a candle
12. Mid pan of Kerry walking with monks
13. Wide of Kerry exiting inner cloister of the church
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday urged Turkey to speed up and cement an American-brokered rapprochement with Israel, and he explored with Palestinian officials new ways to relaunch Middle East peace efforts.
Those are second-term foreign policy priorities for President Barack Obama, and Kerry tried to advance them in meetings with Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.
On a trip to Israel last month, Obama secured a pledge from Turkish and Israeli leaders to normalize ties that broke down after a 2010 Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American.
But the rapprochement has been slow, fuelling concerns that Turkey may be backsliding on its commitment.
Israeli and Turkish negotiators plan to meet this coming week to discuss Turkey's demand for compensation for victims of the flotilla.
US officials hope the discussions will jumpstart the process of restoring full diplomatic relations and exchanging ambassadors between two countries that Washington sees as vital strategic partners in the volatile Middle East.
The raid sparked throughout outrage in Muslim-majority Turkey, making it politically difficult for the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to bend to persistent US appeals to improve relations with Israel.
In March, Obama extracted an apology for the raid from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that broke the stalemate.
Kerry said he understood the anger and frustration of those Turks who lost friends and family in the raid.
Kerry said he had a prolonged and constructive discussion with Davutoglu, about the importance of completing the task with respect to the renewal of relations between Turkey and Israel.
Kerry added that he believed Erdogan, whom he did not meet on this trip, and Davutoglu "are deeply committed to fulfilling all of the obligations of that understanding."
Erdogan plans to visit Obama at the White House on May 16, and US officials are keen to see substantive process by then.
However, Erdogan's plans to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip sometime in May after his trip to Washington have raised concerns. Both Israel and Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority is based in the West Bank, are opposed.
Kerry said he had made it clear to the Turks that such a trip "shouldn't take place at this point in time."
With Abbas, Kerry was talking about ways to improve the Palestinians' living conditions as a confidence-building measure to improve the atmosphere for a resumption in stalled peace talks with Israel.
Later in the day, Kerry then visited St. George Greek Orthodox Church and met with Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinopole.
Kerry has said he fears there is only a two- or three-year window of opportunity to reach a deal on a two-state solution that would end the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wants to move as quickly as possible.
He has met with Abbas and Netanyahu several times already to that end since becoming secretary of state.
Kerry was in Istanbul primarily to attend an international conference on Syria that began on Saturday and stretched into early Sunday as participants debated how best to boost aid to rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
At the conference, he announced that the Obama administration would double its nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition with an additional 123 (m) million US dollars in supplies that could include for the first time armoured vehicles, body armour, night vision goggles and other defensive military supplies.
The additional aid brings total non-lethal US assistance to the opposition to $250 million since the fighting began more than two years ago.
"Each of the countries represented that were here yesterday all made a commitment to direct their military aid and assistance directly and uniquely, solely through the Supreme Military Command, General (Salim) Idriss," said Kerry.
The US pledge was the only tangible, public offer of new international support at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the 11 main countries supporting the opposition and fell well short of what the opposition has been appealing for: weapons and direct military intervention to stop the violence that has killed more than 70,000 people.
The Syrian National Coalition is seeking drone strikes on sites from which the regime has fired missiles, the imposition of no-fly zones and protected humanitarian corridors to ensure the safety of civilians.
While pleased with the US moves, the opposition appeared deeply disappointed, especially as it lost some ground in the latest clashes with Syrian troops backed by pro-government gunmen capturing at least one village in a strategic area near the Lebanese border.
With the exception of the United States, none of the participants offered new assistance, although European nations are considering changes to an arms embargo that would allow weapons transfers to the Syrian opposition.