JEDDAH — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal met in Jeddah Tuesday to talk about coordinating efforts to arm opponents of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Foreign Minister Saud says his government is doing everything it can to help the Syrian rebels and wants a "clear, unequivocal international resolution" banning weapons to the Assad regime and declaring its legitimacy null and void.
The Saudi foreign minister says Syrians are facing both an "unprecedented genocide" by their own government and an invasion by government allies Iran and Hezbollah.
"Syria is facing a massive flow of weapons to aid and abet that invasion and that genocide. This must end," he said.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are thought to have been supplying weapons to Syrian rebels for some time. With President Barack Obama's decision to start arming the rebellion, Secretary Kerry is here to help coordinate that campaign, but not publicly.
"We never discuss the details of whatever kinds of weapons we might or might not be providing to anybody. That is not a matter of public discussion," he said.
He says the United States does not want this to be a wider war with more violence and remains committed to talks on a transitional government.
"But we will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian military coalition and to the Syrian opposition in the interim. Because we do not believe it is appropriate for the Assad regime to have invited the Iranians and Hezbollah to cross international lines and to have their fighters on the ground. There are no United States fighters. There are no Saudi fighters. There are no Qatari fighters on the ground," he said.
While Russia says it is helping organize those talks on a transitional authority, it is continuing to sell weapons to the government in Damascus and says opposition allies who arm the rebellion will only add to the violence.
Secretary Kerry says whether the United States is engaged or not, there will be people who will fund extremists to continue the fight. That, he says, "runs the risk of much greater damage conceivably to Jordan, to Israel, to Lebanon, and in the long run to the region."