News / USA

Kerry in Saudi Arabia for Talks on Syria, Iran

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, after Kerry arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, after Kerry arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 3, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah about Syria's civil war and negotiations over Iran's nuclear program -- issues that are straining U.S.-Saudi relations.

Kerry is hoping to get long-standing ties between Washington and Riyadh back on track after differences over Syria and Iran.

Saudi Arabia last month rejected a United Nations Security Council seat to protest what it called "double standards" over the U.N.'s failure to act in Syria's civil war, where President Bashar al-Assad is backed by Shi'ite leaders in Iran.

Saudi Arabia, which supports the mostly-Sunni Muslim rebels fighting Mr. Assad, was disappointed that Washington backed off its threat of missile strikes against Assad's chemical weapons in favor of a U.S.-Russian plan to destroy those munitions.

Speaking to reporters in Cairo Sunday before traveling to Riyadh, Kerry said the United States and Saudi Arabia share the same goals in Syria.

"There are some countries in the region that wanted the United States to do one thing with respect to Syria, and we have done something else," he said. "Those differences on an individual tactic on a policy do not create a difference on the fundamental goal of the policy."

Kerry said Washington and Riyadh are both working toward a Syrian transitional government that does not include Assad.

The Syrian leader wants Iran to be part of talks on that interim authority. U.S. officials say they have made clear to their Saudi allies that Washington will oppose Iran's inclusion unless Tehran first agrees to the underlying principles of the executive authority of that transitional government.

Saudi leaders are also concerned about apparent progress in international efforts to contain Iran's nuclear program, with both Saudi Arabia and Israel questioning Iran's sincerity. Iran's new government is working to ease crippling economic sanctions tied to suspicions that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Kerry said the Obama administration understands regional security concerns about Iran and is committed to its "major defensive relationships" in the Middle East.

"We will be there for Saudi Arabia, for the Emirates, for Qataris, for the Jordanians, for the Egyptians and others,": he said. "We will not allow those countries to be attacked from outside. We will stand with them."

Saudi Arabia is also helping to fund a military-backed interim government in Egypt, from which the United States is withholding some major weapons systems because of violence that followed July's coup against the country's first democratically elected leader.

Former U.S. ambassador Adam Ereli says increasingly divergent views between Riyadh and Washington reflect a more muscular Saudi foreign policy.

"Look, Saudi Arabia's vital national interests are in play here," he said. "In Syria. In Yemen. In Egypt."

Ereli says the Obama administration is neglecting Saudi Arabia at its own peril.

"How can you take Saudi Arabia for granted? What are you kidding me? They're our 12th-largest trading partner," he said.

Kerry has twice visited Saudi Arabia as secretary of state, but these will be his first talks in that capacity with King Abdullah.

A senior administration official traveling with Kerry says the United States completely agrees with Saudi Arabia about countering Iran's support for groups that Washington and Riyadh consider to be terrorist organizations.

The senior official says the Obama administration supports Saudi Arabia's "much needed" financial assistance to Egypt, but believes it would be appropriate to link that assistance in some way to economic reforms because progress toward a democratic transition in Egypt is tied to its overall economic success.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs