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Kerry, Saudi FM Stress Common Ground


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal talk during a joint press conference in Riyadh on November 4.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal talk during a joint press conference in Riyadh on November 4.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met in Riyadh and stressed the two countries might disagree on tactics but are united in the goals they are pursuing.

Following the November 4 meeting with Kerry, Faisal said "our two friendly countries" are discussing the important issues of the Middle East.

"[There are] two different kinds of differences [between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia] -- differences in objective and differences in tactic," Faisal said. "Some of these differences are in objective -- very few. Most of the differences are in tactics."

Saudi officials have been unhappy with Washington's lack of action in Syria, its tentative warming toward Iran, its stance on Egypt's political turmoil, and differences on the Palestinian issue.

In comments to the media, Faisal said that "historic relations between the two countries have always been based on independence, mutual respect, and constructive cooperation" and told Kerry, "A true relationship between friends is based on sincerity, candor, and frankness, rather than mere courtesy."

The Saudi foreign minister criticized Iran's role in Syria and called on Tehran to withdraw help it is providing to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Faisal did not provide examples of Iran's help to Syria, but his comments came the same day Iran's Mehr and ISNA news agencies reported there would be a funeral on November 5 for a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Jamili, who was killed by "terrorists" a few days ago in Syria.

The Saudi minister also said talks about a Syrian peace deal could not go on indefinitely.

He also called for making the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

Kerry supported Faisal's comments -- saying both countries are preparing for Syrian peace talks in Geneva -- and repeating a U.S. pledge not to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Kerry also returned the compliments about bilateral relations, telling Faisal "this is a deep relationship and it has endured for 75 years and it will endure well into the future."

He also praised the Saudi role in helping Syria's opposition in trying to mediate the Syrian crisis.

"The United States appreciates Saudi Arabia's leadership supporting the Syrian Opposition Coalition and its strong commitment to achieving a political solution to the crisis [in Syria], which is -- we have always said -- really, has only one solution and that is a negotiated political solution," Kerry said. "This crisis will not end through military force, in our judgment."

Kerry also met with King Abdullah.

Kerry was due to be in Poland for a quick visit on November 5 but will then return to the Middle East and visit Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Morocco.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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