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Monday, December 5, 2016

Riyadh (AFP) – Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia are “strategic and enduring”, as he visits the kingdom to ease tensions over U.S. policies on Syria and Iran.

“The relationship between U.S. and Saudi Arabia is many things … Our relationship is strategic, it is enduring and it covers a wide range of bilateral and regional issues,” he told reporters.

“There is no difference in our mutually agreed upon goal in Syria,” Kerry told a joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart, Prince Saud al-Faisal.

The U.S. top diplomat insisted Washington “will not stand idly by as (Syrian President Bashar al-) Assad continues to use weapons” against his own people.

Prince Saud, meanwhile, said any proposed talks to end Syria’s 31-month-old conflict could not go on forever.

“The kingdom realizes the importance of negotiations to solve crises… But talks cannot go on indefinitely,” he said, in reference to efforts to convene a U.S.-Russian proposed peace conference.

He said that the kingdom, which openly backs the Syrian rebels, wants a solution that would “bring an end to the tragedies.”

Kerry and his Saudi host held the press conference following a two-hour meeting between the secretary of state and King Abdullah.

Ahead of the meeting, Kerry said Washington’s relations with Riyadh should stay “on track.”

“Right now we have some very important things to talk about to make certain the Saudi-U.S. relationship is on track, moving forward and doing the things that we need to accomplish,” he told embassy staff in Riyadh.

Kerry’s visit to Riyadh was aimed at easing tensions triggered by U.S. policy on Syria after it backed down from military action last month and by a fledgling outreach to Iran over its nuclear program.

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