Clinton Talks Syrian Diplomacy with Saudi Officials

In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, meets with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 3rd left, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 30, 2012.
In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, meets with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, 3rd left, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Friday, March 30, 2012.



U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun talks with Saudi officials in Riyadh to examine ways of ending the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

Clinton's two-day visit to the Saudi capital is aimed at forging a consensus between the U.S. and Arab Gulf states on how to deal with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's deadly crackdown on dissent.

Saudi state television reports showed Clinton meeting King Abdullah and several top Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia fears the Syrian unrest could destabilize the region if it continues much longer and supports arming the country's opposition, a move the U.S. has not publicly endorsed.

According to Dubai-based political analyst Abdullah Abdulkhaleq, the issue of adding more arms to the conflict will be a major sticking point during Clinton's visit.

"There is a divide," said Abdulkhaleq.  "The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) is ready to do everything possible to stop the killing in Syria, but we see that Washington is still a bit hesitant."

The Obama administration believes arming Syrian rebels would likely lead to civil war and also fears the weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.

U.S.-Saudi relations were strained last year over disagreements on how to handle regional uprisings. That discord has since subsided.

On Saturday, Clinton is scheduled to launch a new "strategic forum" between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic union of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The purpose of the initiative is to boost U.S.-GCC cooperation in a number of fields and comes amid rising worries over Syria's Shi'ite ally Iran.

Abdulkhaleq says it is wise for the United States to strengthen its relations with Gulf States considering the current political climate in the Middle East.

"There is a vacuum in the region and the only states that are more or less working together as a group that have the resources and have the leadership are the GCC states," said Abdulkhaleq.

After leaving Riyadh, Clinton is scheduled to travel to Istanbul to participate in a "Friends of Syria" meeting, where diplomats from Western and Arab nations hope to boost opposition to Assad.

The conference comes after Assad announced this week that he would accept a six-point peace plan put forward by U.N. -Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. Annan on Friday urged swift enactment of the plan.

Clinton said Assad's words were a positive initial step, but she remains skeptical.

"Given Assad's history of overpromising and under delivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate actions," said Clinton.  "We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says. If he is ready to bring this dark chapter in Syria's history to a close, he can prove it by immediately ordering regime forces to stop firing and begin withdrawing from populated areas."

Rights groups say fresh fighting between soldiers and rebel fighters erupted in the northern Idlib province on Friday. According to the United Nations, more than 9,000 people have been killed since unrest in Syria began over a year ago.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs