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Kerry In Saudi Arabia To Smooth Relations

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (file photo)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Saudi Arabia on the second leg of his 11-day tour of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe.

During his visit, Kerry is expected to try to repair relations with America’s long-standing ally.

Egypt is one of the issues that have frayed bilateral ties in recent months.

Washington has frozen a large portion of the $1.3 billion it gives in aid annually to Egypt after the military ousted Islamist President Muhammad Morsi in July.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has thrown its support behind the interim government.

There has also been tension over Syria.

Riyadh, a main backer of Syria’s opposition, was reportedly angered when Washington last month put on hold threatened military strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Also, Riyadh is reportedly concerned that Syrian peace talks could lead to a Tehran-backed government in Damascus.

Saudi Arabia, locked in a decades-long rivalry with Iran, is also concerned that a breakthrough in nuclear negotiations could see a U.S.-Iran rapprochement.

In Cairo Sunday, Kerry said he would not allow countries of the Middle East to be "attacked from the outside" -- a message viewed as a reference to Iran.

On Egypt, the U.S. top diplomat said the "march to democracy” is the country’s only path to stability and economic prosperity.

He also insisted that the United States is committed to working with Egypt's interim rulers.

An official travelling with Kerry told reporters that Kerry “pressed hard on not extending the state of emergency” due to expire in Egypt on November 14.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy expressed satisfaction that Washington and Cairo are "pursuing a resumption of normal relations."

On Syria, Kerry acknowledged that while there might be differences over "tactics" in ending the civil war, the goal for the United States and its allies is the same - a transition of power.

Kerry's trip is scheduled to include visits to Poland, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Morocco.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and BBC