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Kerry Says U.S. Ties With Saudi Arabia Stronger Than Ever

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (right) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on January 23.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said the U.S. friendship with Saudi Arabia is stronger than ever and that the two will work together to try to end wars in Syria and Yemen.

Kerry made the remark on January 24 as he wrapped up a visit to Riyadh.

Kerry said the United States has "as strong a friendship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we have ever had," adding that "nothing has changed" because of the Iran nuclear deal.

Saudi Arabia has long viewed Iran as a regional menace. The historic deal, implemented a week ago, lifted sanctions on Tehran and unfroze billions of dollars in assets.

"Doing an agreement to get rid of a nuclear weapon doesn't do away with the other issues that are still of concern, so we will continue to work in the region with our friends and our allies," Kerry said.

Kerry said he had discussed ways to end the fighting in Syria and "new ideas" to bring peace to Yemen, where the Saudi-backed government is battling Iran-supported Shi'ite rebels.

He added that Saudi Arabia is "committed to work with us in the efforts to try to stabilize Syria and calm down this hyped-up, exploited division between Sunni and Shi'a."

Saudi Arabia backs the Sunni-dominated Syrian rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Iran.

On January 23, Kerry expressed confidence that UN-mediated talks on ending the conflict in Syria would go ahead as tentatively scheduled next week in Switzerland.

The talks are expected to begin January 25 in Geneva, though the start date remains uncertain due to a dispute over who will be part of the delegation representing the opposition challenging Assad's rule.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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